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Stocks surge after Powell signals slower pace for rate hikes

STORY: Wall Street ended sharply higher across the board on Wednesday, as investors barreled into stocks after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank might soon scale back the pace of interest rate hikes.

The Dow gained 2 percent, the S&P 500 gained 3 percent and the Nasdaq soared more than 4 percent.

While Powell gave investors a reason to buy—he also cautioned that the fight against decades-high inflation was far from over and that key questions remain unanswered, including how high rates will ultimately need to rise and for how long.

Ryan Belanger, founder and managing principal of Claro Advisors, said that while investors reacted favorably Wednesday .... he still thinks the Fed is a major risk factor for stocks.

Belanger: "If you are buying into this [stock] market, you are fighting the Fed. The Fed is trying to slow the economy down. They need to do this to get one of their mandates back into control and so, to me, I don't want to fight the Fed."

Among the big movers —

Tesla shares surged after reports that its sales in China in November were boosted by price cuts and incentives.

Biogen jumped after its experimental Alzheimer's drug was shown to slow cognitive decline in a closely watched trial.

Meanwhile, megacap tech stocks Nvidia, Microsoft and Apple also posted strong gains.