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Stocks close higher as financials, energy jump more than 1%

Pisani: Fight of the ETF titans

U.S. stocks closed higher on Wednesday, led by energy and financials, as investors parsed through a slew of economic data while watching surging oil prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended about 110 points higher, with Goldman Sachs, Boeing and Caterpillar contributing the most gains, after rising as much as 147.37 points.

"We think the market is getting accepting that rates are going to go higher," said Thomas Wilson, senior investment manager at Brinker Capital. "It's interesting because the market was at a point where good news was seen as bad by the market. I think the market is driving away from that, and that's good."

The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent, with financials and energy gaining more than 1 percent to lead advancers. The Nasdaq rose approximately 0.5 percent.

"There is just very bullish sentiment, ironically, right after Brexit," said Anna Rathbun, director of research for CBIZ Retirement Plan Services. "Utilities, telecoms and staples have been underperforming in the second half."

The SPDR S&P 500 Bank ETF (KBE) rose around 2 percent and posted its best day since August 5, when it gained 3.21 percent.

U.S. crude futures settled 2.34 percent higher at $49.83 per barrel, its highest level since June., supported by a bullish inventories data. The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that U.S. crude inventories decreased by 3 million barrels, marking the fifth straight week of declines.

"Oil's been on a tear for a while and this consecutive beat in inventories is really fueling those oil and energy names," said Mariann Montagne, senior investment analyst at Gradient Investments. "This is carrying into the [broader stock] market."

Oil prices had risen earlier in the session, after the American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday afternoon that U.S. oil inventories had decreased by 7.6 million barrels.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

"Oil prices were pretty volatile yesterday. Stocks and oil were trading in tandem, but that's something you don't often see when oil is above $40," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "We're near $50 and that's good, but we've seen it run into technical resistance around these levels."

On the data front, companies in September created jobs at the slowest pace in six months as the labor market showed further signs of tightening, according to a report Wednesday from ADP and Moody's Analytics. ADP's report is seen as a preview of the U.S. government's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, due Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET.

"As the monthly data is lumpy its best to smooth the figures out and the trend is clearly for slowing job growth over the past few years which is typical at this stage of the economic cycle," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group. "The Fed will also wait for Friday's number and I dare them to raise rates in November if its north of 175k if they are so apolitical as they claim."

Other data released Wednesday included the U.S. trade deficit widened to $40.7 billion in August, while weekly mortgage applications rose 2.9 percent last week. Factory orders and ISM non-manufacturing both came in better than expected. Market participant have been keeping a close eye on U.S. economic data, as the Federal Reserve has hinted at a possible rate increase later this year.

"I still don't think the Fed is going to move in November, but I think it does raise the odds for December," said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds. "The Fed doesn't want to look political and, to raise rates so close to the election, that would be a political act. I thought they should've raised rates in September because of that reason."

Schwab's Frederick said the odds of a November hike were around 20 percent.

"Bigger picture, I think we're at the point of having monetary policy hand the baton to fiscal policy," said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management.

But the Fed is not the only central bank in focus. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the European Central Bank could start tapering bond purchases before its quantitative easing program ended next March.

"I think this is a testament to to the fact that central bankers are recognizing that negative interest rates have been a failed experiment without saying it," said Schwab's Frederick. "I don't think central bankers ever want to admit they're wrong or that something they've tried has not worked."

Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker delivered a speech reiterating his stance that the case to raise rates is strong, echoing remarks made on Monday by Cleveland Fed Loretta Mester.

U.S. Treasury yields rose, with the two-year note yield last trading higher around 0.83 percent and the 10-year note yield also rising to about 1.72 percent.

The U.S. dollar traded near the flatline against a basket of currencies, a day after hitting its highest level in nearly two months. The euro traded mostly flat against the greenback, near $1.121, and the lower at 103.57.

Gold futures for December delivery settled $1.10 lower at $1,268.60 per ounce after posting their worst trading day since 2013 on Tuesday.

Major U.S. Indexes: DJIA, NCOMP, SPX

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 112.58 points, or 0.62 percent, to close at 18,281.03, with Caterpillar leading advancers and Verizon the top decliner.

The gained 9.24 points, or 0.43 percent, to end at 2,159.73, with energy leading seven sectors higher and real estate the biggest laggard.

The Nasdaq advanced 26.36 points, or 0.5 points, to close at 5,316.02.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 13.

About nine stocks advanced for every five decliners at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 971.65 million and a composite volume of 3.791 billion at the close.

—CNBC's Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

On tap this week:

*Planner subject to change.


5 p.m.: Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker speaks on "Does Federal Reserve Governance Need Reform?"


Earnings: Helen of Troy, International Speedway, Ruby Tuesday

8:30 a.m.: Jobless claims

2 p.m.: Atlanta Fed live webcast on search process for new bank president and answer questions from the public


8:30 a.m.: Employment report

10 a.m.: Wholesale trade

10:30 a.m.: Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer speaks on the economy and financial regulation

12:45 p.m.: Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester speaks on Fed communications

3 p.m.: Consumer credit

3:40 p.m.: San Francisco Senior Vice President Mary Daly speaks on the U.S. economic outlook and the role of education in supporting the American dream

4 p.m.: Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard speaks on blockchain technology