Stock Market Today: Economic Strength Erases Rate Hike Fears

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Markets on Wednesday ignored geopolitics for a day and turned instead to global growth prospects, stoking confidence that the bull market is here to stay even without the support of the Fed.

Back in the green for the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) rose 0.55% to 16,651.80. The S&P 500 (SPY) was 0.67% higher to 1,946.72, while the Nasdaq (QQQ) was ahead by 1.02% to 4,434.13. All sectors posted gains, led by healthcare, technology and even a pickup in industrials. Consumer staples trailed behind the rest as investors focused on sectors leveraged to an improving economy.

The Russell 2000 gained back 0.77% to 1,141.78 as small caps recovered from a recent sell-off after Tuesday's report of significantly better small business survey results.

"There's been a shift to a focus on growth, certainly for today," said Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer at PNC Wealth Management.

Overnight, China reported high-single-digit industrial output growth and the Bank of England raised its 2014 GDP forecast. Japan's second-quarter GDP crashed but due to a widely expected sales tax hike. Eurozone industrial output fell 0.3% in June, but the two largest economies of Germany and France both recorded a sequential rise.

U.S. retail sales came in lower than the consensus, unchanged in July and up 0.1% excluding autos, said the Census Bureau. But economists are expecting an upward revision in the next report in light of higher U.S. job openings, fewer layoffs, rising consumer confidence and increasing wealth. The government also reported an as-forecast 0.4% increase in June business inventories.

In individual stock news, Amazon (AMZN) popped 2.18% to $326.28 after saying it will operate a mobile payments system to compete with Square and other payments systems. Pandora (P) gained 10.31% to $28.35 after Stifel Nicolaus resumed coverage of the stock with a "buy" rating.

Shares of Kohl’s (KSS) were lower by 1.47% to $55.11 as department store stocks reacted negatively to Macy’s (M) lowered full-year forecast. Macy's shares tumbled 5.51% to $56.47. Theme park operator SeaWorld (SEAS) dived 32.86% to $18.90 after the company said that negative media attention contributed to lower-than-expected second-quarter attendance.

The S&P 500 will likely stay range bound between the levels of 1,910 to 1,950 for the remainder of the summer, according to Rockwell Global Capital's chief market economist Peter Cardillo.

--By Andrea Tse in New York

Follow @AndreaTTse

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