Stocks gained the most in almost two years on Wednesday, as a steep drop in oil prices eased concerns that global inflation was going to worsen. The S&P 500 gained 2.6%, the most since June 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2%, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 3.6%. The advances ended the major indexes’ four-day losing skid, but they remained on track for weekly losses.
The market reversal occurred when the price of US crude oil fell 12%, the highest since November, offering comfort following a steep rise in crude prices since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Brent, the international oil benchmark, plunged 13.2%, the highest in over two years.
Crude oil prices tumbled and the slide accelerated amid reports that the United Arab Emirates will urge fellow OPEC members to boost production and ease supply concerns. A barrel of U.S. crude oil settled at $108.70. Brent settled at $111.14. Gold prices and a measure of nervousness among stock investors on Wall Street also eased.
All told, the benchmark S&P 500 rose 107.18 to 4,277.88. The Dow added 653.61 to 33,286.25, and the Nasdaq gained 459.99 to 13,255.55. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 53.28, or 2.7%, to 2,016.29. European stocks rallied even more than the U.S. market. Germany’s DAX jumped 7.9% and France’s CAC 40 rose 7.1%.
On Wall Street, the gains were broad-based, with nearly 85% of the stocks in the S&P 500 rising, led by technology companies. Some of the strongest moves came from airlines, travel companies and other stocks that bounced back from steep drops on worries about fuel costs and the economy.
Among Wednesday’s few decliners were oil-related companies, which lost momentum following big leaps this year on the back of rising crude prices. Halliburton fell 5.2%, though it’s still up 52% for 2022.
Treasury yields climbed as an anticipated increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve nears. The Fed’s policy-making committee is meeting next week, and the wide expectation is that it will vote to raise its benchmark short-term rate by a quarter of a percentage point. It would be the first such increase since 2018. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.94% from 1.86% late Tuesday.
Bitcoin rallied 8% after Biden signed an executive order on government oversight of cryptocurrency. Crypto players have increasingly been saying they welcome increased regulation, and they want to have a hand in shaping it.