Dow ends at record after Fed raises rates; financial stocks pressure S&P 500

U.S. stocks mostly rose on Wednesday, with the Dow ending at a record for a fourth straight session after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, as had been widely expected.

While the days gains were broad, a sharp decline in financial shares limited the broader markets advance and pushed the S&P 500 into slightly negative territory in the final minutes of trading.

What are indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, +0.33%
gained 80.63 points, or 0.3%, to 24,585.43. The blue-chip average closed at a record trading and extended its streak of positive sessions to a fifth straight day.

The S&P
SPX, -0.05%
fell 1.26 point to 2,662.85, a drop of less than 0.1%. The decline put an end to a four-day rise in the benchmark index.

The Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, +0.20%
rose 13.48 points, or 0.2%, to 6,875.8.

The Russell 2000 index
RUT, +0.55%
of small-capitalization shares was one of the outperformers of the day, closing 0.5% higher, which was enough to return the index to positive territory for the month of December.

Financial stocks were the big losers of the day, with the sector slumping 1.3%. Only two of the 67 components of the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF
XLF, -1.24%
ended in positive territory, according to FactSet data. The fund itself fell 1.2% in its biggest one-day percentage drop since early November.

Among the biggest drags, Bank of America Corp.
BAC, -1.64%
fell 1.6% while J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
JPM, -1.25%
ended down by 1.3%. Wells Fargo & Co.
WFC, -1.54%
fell 1.5%.

The sector tends to outperform in periods of higher rates, and it had risen in anticipation of the Fed meeting, up 6.7% over the past month.

What drove the markets?

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark federal-funds rate by a quarter percentage point to between 1.25% and 1.5%its fourth increase in a year. Senior officials also stuck to their earlier projections of three rate increases in 2018.

In Janet Yellens final news conference as Fed chairwoman, she said the U.S. central bank expects the job market to remain strong, though the pace of job growth should decelerate as the Fed continues to tighten policy.

Read: At her final press conference, Yellen grades her tenure at the Fed

The consumer-price index climbed 0.4% in November, matching the MarketWatch forecast. Three-quarters of the increase reflected higher gas prices. However, core rate of inflation that strips out food and energy rose a smaller 0.1%. The disappointment in core inflation sent bond yields and the dollar lower.

Investors also digested the results of Alabamas Senate election Tuesday night, where Democrat Doug Jones won in an upset victory, defeating controversial Republican Roy Moore. The victory will shrink the Republican Senate majority, leaving the balance at 51-49. That has raised concerns that it will be harder for the Republicans to push through major overhauls, such as tax reform, and that the governing party will struggle in the 2018 midterm elections.

However, the tax overhaul may not be threatened, as GOP leaders in Congress are rushing to clear the tax legislation by early next week before Jones arrives in Washington, a Wall Street Journal report noted.

Read: Heres why the Fed will hike interest rates on Wednesday

What are strategists saying?

It was pretty much a certainty that the Fed was going to do what it did. Sorry to be boring, but there were really no surprises. It was a nonevent that had been fully priced into markets, said Eric Green, senior portfolio manager and director of research at Penn Capital Management.

Regarding the fact that Yellen will soon leave her role, Green noted that based on history, I would expect monetary policy to remain fairly steady, although there is always the potential for uncertainty.

Which stocks are in focus?

Among big winners on Wall Street were industrial and consumer discretionary companies. Shares of Caterpillar Inc.
CAT, +3.59%
gained 3.6% while 3M Co.
MMM, +1.07%
rose 1.1%.

Mattel Inc.
MAT, +6.63%
was the biggest percentage gainer among consumer discretionary stocks, rising 6.6%. It was followed by Hasbro Inc.
HAS, +3.73%
which rose 3.7%.

Shares of CentruryLink Inc.
CTL, +6.69%
jumped 6.7% after analysts at Morgan Stanley raised their price target. The stock is up 14% thus far this week, largely thanks to a five-year contract with the state of Pennsylvania to provide data networking services to its employees.

Shares of 21st Century Fox, Inc.
FOX, -3.75%
dropped 3.8% amid concerns over the prospect of a deal with Walt Disney Co
DIS, +0.17%
Shares of Disney ended 0.2% higher.

What are other markets doing?

Stocks in Europe traded lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index
SXXP, -0.24%
down 0.2% to 390.99. Asian markets closed mixed. Japans Nikkei Stock Average
NIK, +0.00%
ended down 0.5% on fresh declines in chip-related companies.

The dollar moved lower after the inflation data, with the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY, -0.71%
down 0.2% at 93.903

The 10-year Treasury
TMUBMUSD10Y, -2.45%
yield was at 2.353% extending its yield decline following the Fed decision.

Oil prices
CLF8, -0.72%
fell 1% to settle at $56.60 a barrel. Gold futures
GCG8, +1.30%
closed up by 0.6% at $1,248.60 an ounce, as the U.S. dollar
DXY, -0.71%
retreated, following the Fed dec

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