Stocks climbed Wednesday as Wall Street posted a second straight day of gains in the new year and the Dow once again approached the 20,000 milestone.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 60 points, or 0.3%, to 19,942.16. The blue-chip index rose has come close to topping 20,000 several times in recent weeks but each time it gets near has pulled back. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.6% and the Nasdaq composite index gained 0.9%. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are near their record closing highs.
Stocks maintained their gains following the release of the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting that provided clues to why policymakers raised interest rates in December for only the second time since 2006 and forecast three rate hikes in 2017 instead of the two moves previously anticipated.
Fed officials said they might have to raise interest rates faster than anticipated to prevent rapidly falling unemployment and President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal stimulus from fueling excessive inflation, according to minutes of the Fed’s December 13-14 meeting.
Benchmark U.S. crude was up 1.8% to $53.24 a barrel in New York. It lost $1.39 on Tuesday.
Some of the largest gains are going to consumer-focused companies. Automakers are jumping as car companies report their December sales, and vehicle suppliers are also trading higher. Retailers are rising as the market builds on its gains from the day before.