US stocks push higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose in afternoon trading on Wall Street Wednesday and erased weekly losses for major indexes as traders try to gauge whether the Federal Reserve will succeed in its mission to get inflation under control.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2% as of 1:07 p.m. Eastern and is now in the green for the week. The benchmark index has slipped for three straight weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 293 points, or 0.9%, to 31,380 and the Nasdaq rose 1.3%.

Technology stocks and retailers made solid gains. Intuit rose 3.6%.

Target rose 3.3% after announcing that it is dropping the mandatory retirement age for its CEO position and allowing CEO Brian Cornell to stay on for three more years.

United Airlines rose 3.2% after raising its revenue forecast following a busy summer travel season. The encouraging update helped several competitors take flight. American Airlines rose 2.2% and Delta Air Lines rose 1.8%.

Energy stocks fell broadly as U.S. crude oil prices slipped 5%. Valero Energy fell 0.6%.

Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences interest rates on mortgages and other loans, fell to 3.27% from 3.34% late Tuesday. The two-year Treasury yield, which tends to track expectations for Fed action, fell to 3.46% from 3.51%.

Wall Street’s focus remains on inflation and the Fed’s attempt to rein in high prices by raising interest rates. The central bank has already raised interest rates four times this year and markets expect them to deliver another jumbo-sized interest rate increase of three-quarters of a percentage point at their next meeting in two weeks.

The central bank has been clear about its determination to continue raising interest rates until it feels that inflation is leveling off or cooling. In June, Fed officials projected that the benchmark rate will reach a range of 3.25% to 3.5% by year’s end and roughly a half-percentage point more in 2023.

“We are in this for as long as it takes to get inflation down,” Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard said at a banking industry conference on Wednesday. “Our resolve is firm, our goals are clear, and our tools are up to the task.”

Investors have been reviewing economic data to gauge whether price increases on everything from food to clothing and gas are easing. They are also closely listening for any clues about potential changes in policy from Fed officials. On Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell takes part in a conversation with the head of the Cato Institute about interest-rate policy.

Markets in Europe and Asia were mostly lower.

China’s trade weakened in August as high energy prices, inflation and anti-virus measures weighed on global and Chinese consumer demand, and imports of Russian oil and gas surged, China’s customs data showed. Exports rose 7% over a year ago, decelerating from July’s 18% expansion, while imports contracted by 0.2%, compared with the previous month’s already weak 2.3% growth. ___

AP Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber contributed to this story.

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