U.S. stocks rose broadly on Wednesday after a fresh set of economic data strengthened the Federal Reserve's patient stance on future rate hikes and as Boeing rose for the first time since Sunday's deadly crash of a 737 MAX 8 jet in Ethiopia. U.S. producer prices barely rose in February, resulting in the smallest annual increase in more than 1-1/2 years, in the latest sign of benign inflation.
"Producer price index is a key signal for the Fed in gauging whether or not to raise rates, so this should add some wind to the sails of those looking for a more dovish Fed," said Mike Loewengart, vice-president of investment strategy at E*Trade Financial in New York. "An accommodative policy has typically been a boon for markets recently."
The data comes on the heels of tame consumer price index numbers on Tuesday. Boeing Co rose 0.7 per cent, snapping a seven-day losing streak. The company's shares took their biggest beating this week following the plane crash that has also prompted a number of countries to ground 737 MAX jets.
Its shares were among the biggest boosts to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has risen only once in the past seven days, underscoring Boeing's heft in the index. Investors were also optimistic that British lawmakers were set to rule out a no-deal Brexit.
The parliament is due to vote later in the day on whether the country should leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal, a scenario that business leaders warn would bring chaos to markets globally. "If it turns out to be a chaotic divorce then it would impact the entire globe in terms of slowing down economic growth and that is a concern," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
Apple Inc rose 0.5 per cent, driving a 0.61 per cent gain in the technology sector, which provided the biggest boost to the markets. The iPhone maker is set to post its fourth straight session of gains. At 9:50 a.m. ET the Dow was up 94.65 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 25,649.31. The S&P 500 was up 11.26 points, or 0.40 per cent, at 2,802.78 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 37.09 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 7,628.12.
The energy sector rose 0.59 per cent, the most among the 11 major S&P indexes trading higher, on rising crude prices. Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp rose 0.6 per cent and Chevron Corp gained 0.3 per cent.
CVS Health Corp rose 1.86 per cent, the most among S&P companies, after Bernstein started coverage of the pharmacy benefit manager with an "outperform" rating. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.92-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.00-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 38 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 33 new highs and eight new lows.