Wall St closes higher after Biden-Xi talks end, oil steadies

Wall Street’s three major indexes closed higher on Friday, boosted by recently battered technology stocks, after talks between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping over the Ukraine crisis ended without big surprises.

Investors were also eyeing slowing gains in oil prices as they continued to digest the Federal Reserve’s Wednesday interest rate increase and its aggressive plan for further hikes aimed at combating soaring inflation.

US President Joe Biden warned Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a call that there would be “consequences” if Beijing gave material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said.

Both sides stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

While Xi called on NATO nations to hold a dialogue with Moscow, he did not assign blame to Russia for the invasion.

“The read out from the meeting was as expected,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York regarding the Xi/Biden talks.

He said that since Russia/Ukraine talks were continuing, investors were tending toward optimism.

“Regarding Russia, Ukraine, the market has been more positive on news from the diplomatic front than negative on the escalation.”

Hogan also cited calmer oil prices and relief that the highly anticipated Fed news was finally out.

“Instead of having fears and trepidation of what the Fed might do we have clear road map for monetary policy,” Hogan said.

In addition to less onerous than expected Fed actions, Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers in Greenwich, Connecticut said investors were reassured that US crude oil prices weren’t too far above $100 on Friday after recently surpassing $130.

“At least for this week oil has found a level. That’s someway positive for the market as a rising oil price is overweighted in consumer minds as an inflationary indicator,” said Sosnick.

“Does the market like oil around $100? No. But is it happier that it’s around $100 than going up $20 every day? Of course.”

Investors were also monitoring for any impact from Friday’s “triple witching,” in which investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before they expire, which can lead to volatility and higher volume of trades.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 51.88 points, or 1.18%, to end at 4,463.55 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 275.00 points, or 2.02%, to 13,889.78.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 256.26 points, or 0.74%, to 34,737.02.

Moderna Inc gained ground after the drug-maker submitted a request to the US Food and Drug Administration to allow for a second booster of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Shares of Boeing Co rose after reports the plane maker was edging toward a landmark order from Delta Air Lines for up to 100 of its 737 MAX 10 jets.

Shares in US delivery firm FedEx Corp slumped after a weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings report.

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