Online Share Market News

Stocks rally as Dow jumps more than 200 points

Stocks were up sharply in afternoon trading Monday, ahead of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting that begins Tuesday and may set the stage for the first U.S. interest rate hike since the global financial crisis. The Dow Jones industrial average was up more than 200 points, or 1.3% and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 1.3%. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.1%.635620946982649381-AP-Financial-Markets-Wall-Street

The rally put the Dow and S&P 500 back into the black for the year. Oil prices continue to drop as U.S. benchmark crude hit a six-year low as it plunged as much 4% to a low of $42.79 a barrel. A growing number of investors expect the U.S. central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate sooner rather than later and will be watching to see whether officials signal that’s the case.

Stocks have been lifted for several years by ultralow rates and other monetary stimulus but a Fed rate hike would mark the start of a return to more normal levels for borrowing costs. The Fed has kept its benchmark lending rate near zero for more than six years. Overseas, Asian stock markets were mixed Monday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropping 0.04% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.5%. Chinese stocks surged to their highest level in half a decade on hopes of new government stimulus, with the Shanghai Composite gaining 2.3.

On Sunday, Premier Li Keqiang was quoted by official news agency Xinhua as saying policymakers have “fairly ample room” and a “host of policy instruments” to boost economic growth if it slows more than expected. European stocks rose: France’s CAC 40 was up 1% and Germany’s DAX jumped 2.2%. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6%.