* Fed minutes show policymakers eyeing faster rate hikes
* Ford, GM rise on December U.S. auto sales
* Comcast up after price target increase
* Indexes close up: Dow 0.30 pct, S&P 0.57 pct, Nasdaq 0.88
(Updates to close)
By Noel Randewich
Jan 4 U.S. shares ended higher on Wednesday even
after minutes from the Fed's December meeting showed concerns
that quicker economic growth under President-elect Donald Trump
could require faster interest-rate increases to ward off
U.S. stocks have surged over the past two months on
expectations that Trump will stimulate the economy with tax cuts
and infrastructure spending, and eliminate regulations in the
But investors also worry that Trump's measures could stir
inflation and push the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest
rates more aggressively than anticipated.
"Clearly, some of the members on the committee are taking a
look at proposed fiscal changes, whether that's tax cuts or
infrastructure spending," said Chris Zaccarelli, Chief
Investment Officer for Cornerstone Financial Partners. "It's
confirmation of what people were already expecting."
Extremely low interest rates have fueled rally of over 200
percent in the S&P 500 since the 2008 financial crisis, and
investors worry that raising rates will crimp future increases.
With just over two weeks left before Trump takes office, and
the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing in on the
never-before-reached 20,000 mark, investors also say they need
to see evidence that his campaign-trail promises will be
approved by Republican lawmakers.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 percent to
end at 19,942.16 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.57
percent to 2,270.75.
The Nasdaq Composite added 0.88 percent to
Since Trump unexpectedly won his bid for the White House on
Nov. 8, the S&P has gained over 6 percent and the Dow has
rallied nearly 9 percent.
In Wednesday's session, the materials index
rallied 1.38 percent, its best day in nearly a month.
The S&P 500 consumer discretionary sector rose
1.33 percent, helped by gains in automakers. Both General Motors
and Ford rose over 4 percent after posting
better-than-expected U.S. sales in December.
Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with just
the energy and telecommunications sectors at a
Gilead Sciences jumped 2.99 percent after the
biopharmaceutical company named a new oncology chief.
Comcast rose 1.19 percent after Macquarie raised
its price target.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
5.84-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.44-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 160 new highs and 18 new lows.
About 7.0 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges,
more than the 6.8 billion daily average over the last 20
(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru;
Editing by Nick Zieminski)