Wall Street rose in a choppy session on Thursday, notching its fifth straight days of gains. The big indexes temporary declined after Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the central bank's balance sheet would be - in his words - "substantially smaller" and raised concerns about the size of the U.S. debt. But he also said the Fed would be patient about interest rate hikes.
Redmount Capital Partners Chief Investment Strategist, Vincent Catalano:
SOUNDBITE: REDMOUNT CAPITAL PARTNERS CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, VINCENT CATALANO, (ENGLISH) SAYING:
"(Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell) He is softening the talk, and so it does look like maybe we won't get the two rate hikes for this year. But that as we discussed in the past, presents the Fed with even more of a bind. They've got to get those short rates up. They need that cushion when not if recession comes."
Department store stocks tumbled, especially Macy's. Weak demand in mid-December pushed Macy's to reduce its full year forecast for same-store sales. Kohl's also disappointed investors with anemic year-end sales growth. Target bucked the trend with a solid jump in comparable store sales, but its shares also fell.
Boeing shares rose. The U.S. Air Force is expected to announce it'll accept delivery of its long-delayed KC-46 air tanker. Separately, the U.S. aerospace company topped Airbus in jet orders for the first time since 2012.
Airline stocks went the other way, falling after American Airlines cut its fourth-quarter profit and unit revenue forecasts.
European markets closed mostly higher after spending most of the day in negative territory.