US stocks ticked higher on Wednesday as traders took in more fourth-quarter earnings and assessed remarks from central bank officials on the path of rate cuts this year.
All three benchmark indexes ended the day in the green, with the S&P 500 stopping shy of the 5,000 level.
Of the S&P 500 firms that have reported earnings so far, 75% have beat analysts’ estimates by an average 7.3%, according to FactSet data. Ford, Uber (NYSE: UBER), and Roblox all climbed higher after beating earnings estimates this week.
Disney is the latest high-profile firm to report earnings. The media company reported earnings after the closing bell, beating Wall Street’s estimates and giving raising guidance for the fiscal year. The stock rose 6.7% in after-hours trading.
Investors also absorbed the latest comments from central bankers, who seemed to affirm hope that interest rate cuts are on the way.
Fed Governor Adriana Kugler said rate cuts would be appropriate “at some point,” assuming inflation and the labor market continued to cool. She noted there was some risk the progress in lowering inflation could stall, which could result in rates staying at their current level for a longer period of time.
Boston Fed President Susan Collins said she saw rate cuts likely coming later in the year.
“Seeing sustained, broadening signs of progress should provide the necessary confidence I would need to begin a methodical adjustment to our policy stance,” Collins said at the Boston Economic Club on Wednesday.
Traders are still pricing in an aggressive pace of rate cuts to end the year, despite Powell pushing back on March rate cut expectations earlier in the week. Investors are now pricing in a 65% chance that rates could be cut 125 basis points by December, according to the CME FedWatch tool.