October 3, 2019 / 12:06 PM / 20 days ago

Wall Street gains as weak services data raises rate-cut expectations

(Reuters) - Wall Street stocks climbed on Thursday after data showing U.S. services-sector activity at a three-year low fueled expectations that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates to stem a wider economic downturn.

Microsoft (MSFT.O) rose 1.2% and Facebook (FB.O) added 2.7%, with the two contributing more than any other companies to the S&P 500’s gain.

The market dropped after the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its non-manufacturing activity index fell to a reading of 52.6 in September, the lowest since August 2016.

That added to fears sparked on Tuesday when a report showed U.S. factory activity contracted to its lowest level in more than a decade, as well as data on Wednesday showing private payrolls growth in August was not as strong as previously estimated.

Stock prices bounced back from the dour economic data as bets on a third U.S. rate cut this year at Fed’s October policy meeting surged to 90% from 40%, according to CME Group’s Fed Watch tool.

“The degradation of the data, especially the non-manufacturing data, kind of pushes the Fed to another cut,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

Traders are again expecting at least two more rate reductions by the end of 2019, which they had abandoned after the central bank described each of its last two rate cuts as a “mid-cycle adjustment.” [MMT/]

“We are at a critical point. Global growth is slowing and U.S. growth is decelerating because of trade disputes and uncertainty caused by trade policy,” said Ben Phillips, chief investment officer at EventShares. “But the market loves easy money, and when it gets a whiff of it, it gets high.”

A pivotal jobs report on Friday may contribute more evidence of whether the U.S.-China trade war is pushing the world’s largest economy toward a recession.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.47% to end at 26,201.04, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.80% to 2,910.63.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 1.12% to end the session at 7,872.27.

Over the past 12 months, the S&P 500 is down about 0.5%.

PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O) on Thursday rose 3% after beating quarterly expectations as higher advertising and new low-calorie versions of Gatorade boosted demand for its beverages in North America.

Its shares pushed the S&P consumer staples index .SPLRCS 0.7% higher. All of the 11 major sectors rose, led by a 1.3% rise in the energy index .SPNY.

Corona maker Constellation Brands Inc (STZ.N) fell 6.1% after it took an $839 million markdown in the value of its investment in pot firm Canopy Growth (WEED.TO) during the quarter.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.80-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.56-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 9 new 52-week highs and 20 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 6 new highs and 109 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.1 billion shares, compared with the 7.3 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Dan Grebler

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