Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaks at the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty Images

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 618 points on Wednesday, its best one-day gain since March (per CNBC), while both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite rose over 2% following a highly anticipated speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in New York.

The big picture: There's no single reason for markets' surge, but some market-watchers say investors misinterpreted Powell's comment that interest rates were "just below" the neutral level to mean fewer interest rate hikes were on the horizon.

What they're saying:

  • Jared Bernstein, who served as chief economist under Vice President Joe Biden:
  • Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics:
  • Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global:
  • Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, tweeted, in part that it was "not correct" that markets saw Powell's comments has a signal that the Fed will no longer hike interest rates after December.

The other side:

  • Joe LaVorgna, chief economist for the Americas at Natixis:

Go deeper

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. EST: 32,135,220 — Total deaths: 981,660 — Total recoveries: 22,149,441Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m EST: 6,975,980 — Total deaths: 202,738 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  4. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  6. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  7. Sports: Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic — Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  8. Science: Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China — During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
8 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
9 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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