Market Wrap: Stocks Rise as Dollar Drops, Fed Worries Ease

Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP
By Caroline Valetkevitch

U.S. stocks rallied Monday as the U.S. dollar eased back from its recent peak and worries eased about the timing of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike.

Recent dollar strength has increased expectations the Fed could be more cautious about raising rates this year.

The day's gains gave the S&P 500 its biggest percentage gain since Feb. 3, with the S&P utilities, which tend to do well in a low interest rate environment, among the day's best-performing sectors. The utilities sector rose 1.7 percent.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-It seems to me that interest rate expectations are driving the market right now.%The S&P health care sector led gains in the S&P 500. It jumped 2.2 percent, helped by a 5.7 percent price increase in shares of Amgen (AMGN) to $163.03, following promising data in studies of a new class of cholesterol-reducing drugs.

All eyes will be on the Fed's statement Wednesday, when investors hope the central bank will give a clearer signal on the timing of its first interest rate hike in almost a decade.

"It seems to me that interest rate expectations are driving the market right now," said Uri Landesman, president at Platinum Partners in New York. "Every day when they think it's going to start, they get nervous and sell them off. And every day they think it may be slower or not begin, then they take them up."

The day's decline in the dollar helped ease some worries over how a robust greenback might erode the earnings of multinationals.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 228.11 points, or 1.29 percent, to 17,977.42, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) gained 27.79 points, or 1.35 percent, to 2,081.19 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 57.75 points, or 1.19 percent, to 4,929.51.

The Dow and S&P 500 had registered their third week of losses last week.

Stocks Making News

Energy shares also bounced, adding to gains late in the session despite further losses in oil prices. The S&P energy index was up 1.4 percent, while U.S. crude oil settled down 96 cents at $43.88 a barrel and earlier hit its lowest since March 2009.

Shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) were up 1.1 percent at $84.76.

Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP) shares rose 2 percent to $172.75 after it agreed to an increased $173 per share offer from Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Valeant (VRX) shares were up 2.5 percent at $202.34.

The biggest percentage decliner in the S&P 500 was Avon Products (AVP), which was down 5.7 percent at $7.28 after S&P Dow Jones Indices announced late Friday the stock would be moved out of the S&P 500 this month.

About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.6 billion average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Markets.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,980 to 1,083, for a 1.83-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,549 issues rose and 1,202 fell, for a 1.29-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 56 new 52-week highs and 10 new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 168 new highs and 64 new lows.

-With additional reporting by Sinead Carew.

What to watch Tuesday:
  • Federal Reserve policymakers begin a two-day meeting to set interest rates.
  • The Commerce Department releases housing starts for February at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
Earnings Season
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The 6 Best Things to Buy in March
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Market Wrap: Stocks Rise as Dollar Drops, Fed Worries Ease
The travel industry sees a decline in travel throughout late winter, including March. That's often because people don't have a reason, or the time, to get away. If you can, though, take advantage of the low prices, which are found across the board. Cash in those airline miles, pick up that new luggage you've been meaning to buy and plan for a weekend getaway that'll give you some reprieve from the humdrum of your current life. Prices are lower on car rentals, airfare, lodging, travel essentials and more.
Now that the lovey-doviest day of the year has passed -- and there's no major jewelry-buying holiday in sight until Mother's Day -- retailers are eager to move their bling. Keep an eye out for in-store and online specials at your favorite retailers during all of March and even into April. Also, don't be afraid to put your haggling hat on and negotiate lower prices, even if there isn't a sale going on. Because of the pressure to sell during this slow time, you'll have an easier time negotiating with desperate sales reps.
March is National Reading Month, so expect an uptick in sales and specials throughout the month as retailers celebrate. Also be sure to shop clearance sections at your local bookstore and cash in on those coupons and online discount codes. For even cheaper books, try try thrift stores and websites such as
There's a noticeable shift in scents at the change of every season. For example, winter calls for richer, heavier personal fragrances, and candles and other home fragrances are typically very wintry (cranberries, birch trees, etc.) during the cold months. Perfumers and home fragrance retailers are putting out new scents right now, which means last season's goods are hitting the clearance bin. Stock up for now and later.
As we get closer to warmer weather, people pull up their sleeves and prepare for spring cleaning and organizing. So this is the time for new products (even if it's just a slight change in formulation or scent),and introductory rates to get you to try them. Keep your eyes peeled and your home fresh.
March is also National Frozen Food Month, so expect coupons and specials from frozen-food firms. To keep track of specials and to find coupons, follow these companies on social media, get e-mail blasts from them and pick up your Sunday paper. Score better deals when you stack a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon or special.
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