February 22, 2018 / 3:21 PM / 7 months ago

US STOCKS-Tech, industrial shares drive Wall St higher

* U.S. weekly jobless claims fall more than expected

* Bond yields ease from Wednesday’s peak

* Futures pick up after Bullard’s comment on rates

* Indexes up: Dow 0.87 pct, S&P 0.77 pct, Nasdaq 0.7 pct (Updates to open)

By Sruthi Shankar

Feb 22 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Thursday, led by gains in technology and industrial shares as investors looked past fears of more interest rate hikes this year.

Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed on Wednesday that the policymakers were more confident in the need to keep raising rates, with most believing inflation would perk up.

However, comments from St Louis Fed President James Bullard earlier in the day appeared to have eased some of those concerns and the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields slipped from the more than four-year highs they hit on Wednesday.

Bullard told CNBC on Thursday that central bankers need to be careful not to increase interest rates too quickly this year because that could slow the economy too much.

“Bullard made a comment on rates. That’s what has given the market a reason to see a little bit of a positive futures,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth in New York.

By 9:40 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 214.51 points, or 0.87 percent, at 25,012.29 and the S&P 500 rose 0.77 percent to 2,722.25. The two indexes were higher after two days of losses.

The Nasdaq Composite also gained 0.7 percent to trade at 7,268.93.

Despite Fed’s hawkish views, bets on the U.S. short-term interest rate futures continued to reflect expectations of three rate hikes this year, based on a Reuters analysis.

Traders also gave a 94 percent chance that the first hike would come in March.

All the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 1.5 percent gain in the telecom services index and a 0.9 percent rise in the energy index.

Chesapeake Energy was the top gainer, jumping 10.5 percent after the company said it expected production growth this year to match last year’s level, despite plans to lower capital investments.

Pandora Media reversed course to trade 8 percent lower as multiple brokerages slashed their price targets on the internet radio company’s stock following results.

Roku slid more than 21 percent after the TV streaming device maker forecast current-quarter revenue below estimates.

Economic data showed U.S. jobless claims fell more-than-expected to a near 45-year low last week.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims unchanged at 230,000 in the latest week.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,019 to 527. On the Nasdaq, 1,616 issues rose and 738 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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