Wall Street headed for 4-week streak of gains
Stocks rose broadly in afternoon trading on Wall Street today and added to weekly gains for the major indexes.
The S&P 500 rose 1.3 percent as of 2:32 p.m. Eastern with about 90 percent of stocks in the benchmark index gaining ground. It’s on track for its first 4-week winning streak since last year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 313 points, or 0.9 percent, to 33,648 and the Nasdaq rose 1.6 percent.
Small-company stocks also made strong gains in a sign that investors are confident about the economy. The Russell 2000 rose 1.7 percent.
Technology and communications stocks had some of the biggest gains. Chipmaker Nvidia rose 3.6 percent and Facebook’s parent Meta rose 1.3 percent.
Energy companies lagged the market as U.S. oil prices slipped 2.4 percent. Chevron slipped 0.4 percent.
Trading has been choppy throughout much of the week, but major indexes got a big bump, and made the bulk of their gains, on Wednesday after a report showed that inflation cooled more than expected last month.
The Federal Reserve’s fight to tame higher prices remains a priority for Wall Street. Investors have been hoping to see some relief from the hottest inflation in four decades and stocks rallied on Wednesday after an encouraging report on consumer prices from the Labor Department.
The Fed has been raising interest rates in the hopes of slowing the economy and cooling inflation, but investors are worried that it could hit the brakes too aggressively and steer the economy into a recession. The cooler-than-expected reading on consumer prices bolstered hopes among investors that inflation may be close to a peak and that the Fed might be able to temper its rate hikes.
A report on Thursday showed inflation at the wholesale level also slowed more than economists expected last month. Today, a survey by the University of Michigan showed that consumer sentiment is stronger than expected by economists.
Inflation is still painfully high, though, and the Fed is likely to remain on course with its rate hikes until it is certain that prices have peaked and are easing. The Fed’s last two increases were by 0.75 percentage points. Traders now see about a 60 percent chance that the central bank will raise overnight interest rates by half a percentage point at its next meeting.
“The market’s strength is based on the assumption that inflation peaked and the Fed can relax, but that may be a bit too complacent,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.85 percent from 2.88 percent late Thursday. It remains below the two-year yield. That’s an unusual inversion of the expectation that borrowing money for a longer period should cost more than a shorter period. When investors demand a higher return for a short term like the 2-year than a longer one like 10 years, it’s viewed by some investors as a reliable signal of a pending recession and the economy has already contracted for two consecutive quarters.
Wall Street will get more details on the economy next week when the Commerce Department releases its retail sales report for July and retail giant Walmart reports its latest financial results.
Investors can also assess the health of the housing market when they get a report on home sales for July and the latest earnings from Home Depot.