- Gasoline fuels US inflation, but underlying trend weakens
- Ford rises on plans to double production of pickup trucks
- Citi rises on management changes
- Indexes: S&P 500 +0.31%, Nasdaq +0.55%, Dow +0.06%
Sept 13 (Reuters) - Stocks on Wall Street climbed on Wednesday as data showing a moderate increase in consumer prices in August cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve will leave interest rates unchanged in September.
Data showed consumer prices increased by the most in 14 months in August as gasoline prices surged, but the annual rise in underlying inflation was the smallest in nearly two years.
Stickiness in services inflation has kept alive prospects of a November hike. Interest rate traders now see a 97% chance of the Fed holding rates in September, and a 61% likelihood of a pause in November, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.
"I don't think the Fed wants to throw a shock and do a 25-basis-point hike when the expectations are that they won't, but rate hikes are not completely off the table for the rest of the year," said Victoria Fernandez, chief market strategist at Crossmark Global Investment.
Gasoline prices, which have stoked inflation worries, peaked at $3.984 per gallon in the third week of the month, compared with $3.676 per gallon during the same period in July.
The S&P 500 utilities index (.SPLRCU) gained 1.3%, with the traditionally defensive sector's rally hinting at investor nervousness ahead of producer price and retail sales data on Thursday, which could influence the Fed's Sept. 20 policy decision.
"That is somewhat of a red flag, it points to skittishness among equity holders, and that's not necessarily unexpected," said Keith Buchanan, a portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments in Atlanta.
The Fed is unlikely to cut rates before the April-June period next year, a Reuters poll showed.
The S&P 500 was up 0.31% at 4,475.55 points.
The Nasdaq gained 0.55% to 13,848.72 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.06% at 34,666.81 points.
The S&P 500's gain on Wednesday leaves the index down about almost 1% so far in September and up nearly 17% in 2023.
Citigroup (C.N) rose 2.2% after CEO Jane Fraser announced a major management re-organization that will result in more job cuts and give her greater direct oversight over the company as she seeks to simplify its structure.
U.S.-listed shares of Chinese electric-vehicle makers Nio and Xpeng fell 3.5% and 1.8%, respectively, after the European Commission started an investigation to assess whether their vehicles warrant punitive tariffs.
Moderna (MRNA.O) gained 3.7% after the drugmaker said its flu vaccine mRNA-1010 met the primary goal in a late-stage trial. The firm also announced it was scaling down manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine.
Declining stocks outnumbered rising ones within the S&P 500 (.AD.SPX) by a 1.4-to-one ratio.131 new lows.
The S&P 500 posted 10 new highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and 154 new lows.
Reporting by Ankika Biswas, Shristi Achar A and Shubham Batra in Bengaluru, and by Noel Randewich in Oakland, Calif.; Editing by Savio D'Souza, Vinay Dwivedi and Deepa Babington
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