Wall Street rises on Fed rates signal

Wall Street's main indexes have ended with solid gains after the Federal Reserve's November meeting minutes showed interest rate hikes could slow soon.

A "substantial majority" of policymakers agreed it would "likely soon be appropriate" to slow the pace of interest rate hikes, the minutes showed.

"What equity markets needed to see for the recent strength to continue was what we got from the minutes," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

Since the Fed's last meeting on November 1-2, investors have been more optimistic that price pressure has started to ease, meaning smaller rate hikes could curtail inflation.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 24.03 points, or 0.61 per cent, to end at 4027.46 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 112.77 points, or 1.01 per cent, to 11,287.18.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 97.01 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 34,200.35.

Trading volume was thin ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, with the United States stock market open for a half-session on Friday.

Earlier on Wednesday, a mixed bag of economic data led to a drop in yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, helping drive stocks up.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week and US business activity contracted for a fifth straight month in November.

Consumer sentiment ticked higher and home sales rose above expectations.

"What I think you're seeing is renewed investor enthusiasm fuelled by those who see that beautiful light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel," Anson Funds portfolio manager Moez Kassam said.

"And there has been so much money on the sidelines that is rushing back into the markets and waiting to get back into the action."

Heavyweight stocks, including Amazon.com Inc and Meta Platforms Inc, rose.

Tesla Inc jumped with Citigroup upgrading the electric-vehicle maker's stock to "neutral" from a "sell" rating.

Deere & Co soared after the farm equipment maker reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit.

Nordstrom Inc fell as the fashion retailer cut its profit forecast amid steep markdowns to attract inflation-wary customers.