The S&P 500 rose on Tuesday for its first gain in four days, as oil prices continued to drop further below $100 and a reading of wholesale inflation came in lighter than expected.
The gains came as traders continued to eye the latest with ceasefire negotiations in Ukraine and China Covid lockdowns that could wreak havoc on tech supply chains. Investors are anticipating a big Federal Reserve monetary decision Wednesday, in which the central bank is expected to hike rates for the first time since 2018.
The broad market index rose 2.1% to 4,262.45, though it remains more than 11% from its record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 599.10 points, or 1.8%, to 33,544.34. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 2.9% to 12,948.62.
CFRA chief investment strategist Sam Stovall said a volatile and confusing market that has fatigued investors was due for a relief rally, even if it's just that.
"Because this market has been so weak, so unconvincing since its all-time high on January 3, and because of intraday reversals, no one really knows what will end up being," Stovall said. "But what is causing the market to be totally in the green today is it's just getting tired of going straight down for such an extended period. So even if this were simply a relief rally, I think we are due for one."
Falling oil prices and inflation data are both catalysts for that rally, Stovall added. Additionally, with investors looking forward to the outcome of the Fed's meeting, Stovall noted that the market remembers stocks tend to rise in the first, third and twelfth months after an initial rate increase.
"The market expects seven [rate] hikes in 2022. Given the sell-off in the commodity markets, there's a little less fear of inflation, and when that's the case, the natural inclination is to go toward the growthier sectors," Julian Emanuel, Evercore ISI senior managing director of equity, told CNBC's "Closing Bell" Tuesday.
Tech stocks led the bounce after recent losses. Microsoft and Netflix each rose 3.8% after Wall Street analysts reiterated their overweight ratings. Oracle climbed 4.5%. Chipmakers climbed, with Nvidia 7.7% higher and Advanced Micro Devices up 6.9%.
Disney and McDonald's added 4% and 2.8%, respectively. Peloton jumped 11.9% after Bernstein initiated coverage of it with an outperform rating and said recent losses make this an "absurdly attractive" entry point for investors.
Airline stocks got a boost after some major carriers raised their revenue outlooks. United and American each rose more than 9%, while Delta added 8.7%.
Falling oil prices pushed up other travel stocks as well, including cruise lines, hotels, casino and gaming companies and travel booking site operators, which were among the top gainers in the S&P 500. The Invesco Dynamic Leisure and Entertainment ETF gained about 2.7%.
Meanwhile, the drop in oil prices put pressure on energy stocks. Chevron and Exxon each fell about 5%. The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund was down about 3.7%, for its third straight negative day and its worst day since November.
Oil prices continued their decline Tuesday. U.S. crude futures slid about 6.4% to settle at $96.44 per barrel, after topping $130 about a week ago. Meanwhile, the international Brent benchmark settled 6.5% lower at $99.91 per barrel.
February's surge in energy prices led wholesale goods prices to their biggest one-month jump on record, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. The headline producer price index (PPI) rose 0.8% in February from the previous month. While that was slightly lower than the 0.9% estimated by Dow Jones, it still showed a 10% gain from the same time last year.
However, core PPI, which excludes food, energy and trade services, rose just 0.2%. That was below the expectation of 0.6%.
In Ukraine, the capital city of Kyiv announced a 35-hour curfew that begins at 8 p.m. local time following Russian missile strikes that hit several residential buildings in the city. Russia and Ukraine resumed talks Tuesday, following a fourth round of negotiations Monday. Meanwhile, Russia is approaching a series of deadlines to make payments on its debt.
On Monday, United States officials held "intense" talks with China to discuss, among other things, concerns that Beijing may attempt to help Russia blunt global sanctions. The discussion followed reports that Moscow requested military equipment from China for its war in Ukraine.
China is also facing its worst Covid outbreak since the height of the pandemic. Shenzhen, a major city in a key manufacturing hub in China, has shut down nonessential businesses and imposed city-wide testing, raising concern over the global economic recovery going forward.
The Federal Reserve kicked off an important two-day meeting Tuesday, with investors expecting a quarter-point rate hike to be announced Wednesday. That would be just the beginning of the central bank's unwinding of the massive economic aid it provided during the pandemic.
Rising inflation is expected to be the focal point of the meeting, however. At the last update, in December, officials projected inflation would run at 2.7%. However, February's core personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve's primary inflation gauge, indicated inflation is up 5.2% from a year ago.
Policymakers will also update their outlook for rates as well as GDP, inflation and unemployment.