May 21st, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street ends higher, sending Nasdaq to a record high


By Damian J. Troise, The Associated Press on May 14, 2024.

A currency trader gives a thumps up near the screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Asian shares were mixed in muted trading Tuesday, after U.S. stock indexes drifted to a mixed finish. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks ended higher on Wall Street, sending the Nasdaq composite to another record. The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, and is sitting just shy of its own all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3%. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.8%. Several “meme” stocks raced higher including GameStop and AMC Entertainment in an echo of the social-media driven frenzy of three years ago. Treasury yields edged lower in the bond market following a mixed report on wholesale inflation. Markets will be even more focused on the government’s report due out early Wednesday on inflation in consumer prices.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks drifted higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street Tuesday, leaving the market hovering just below the record high it set in late March.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and is just below its record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 99 points, or 0.3% to 39,531 as of 2:39 p.m. Eastern. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.6%.

Several “meme” stocks, including GameStop and AMC Entertainment, raced higher in a reprise of the social-media driven frenzy of three years ago. GameStop jumped 54.6% and AMC rose 34.3%. Both stocks gave back most of their gains from earlier in the day.

An update on inflation showed that prices remain stubbornly high at the wholesale level, before many price changes are passed along to consumers. The latest producer price index showed that inflation rose sharply in April. The report also included a revision lower for the March reading. The report is the first of two big inflation updates this week that are being closely watched by Wall Street.

“Inflation pressures in the U.S economy are still substantial and the momentum that built up over the last few years is still rolling along,” said by Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank. “At the margin the Fed will see the April PPI report as another reason to slow-roll interest rate cuts.”

Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 4.45% from 4.49% late Monday. The yield on the two-year Treasury, which more closely tracks expectations for actions by the Federal Reserve, fell to 4.82% from 4.86%.

The bigger test for markets comes Wednesday, when the U.S. releases its monthly update on consumer prices, or inflation faced by households. Economists expect the consumer price index to ease to 3.4% in April on year-over-year basis. The rate of inflation has been ticking higher in 2024, raising concerns that the Fed could have a hard time taming inflation to the central bank’s goal of 2%.

Investors have been curtailing their expectations for the speed and frequency of interest rate cuts this year as inflation remains hotter than expected. Traders are betting on one or two rate cuts this year, according to data from CME Group.

Wall Street is still hoping the Fed can pull off its “soft landing,” where high interest rates work to cool inflation without slowing the economy into a recession. The economy remains strong, but consumers might be showing signs of fatigue under the weight of stubborn inflation. Economists expect a retail sales report on Wednesday to show that consumer spending softened in April, just as it has over the last several months.

The latest round of earnings reports and company forecasts from retailers also show that consumers are struggling. Lower-income households are under a particularly heavy strain.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell, at a panel discussion in Amsterdam on Tuesday, reaffirmed that the central bank won’t likely raise its key interest rate to respond to stubborn inflation. He also said that his confidence that inflation will ease is “not as high as it was” because price increases have been persistently hot in the first three months of this year.

Earnings have been a bright spot for markets, helping to support gains for major indexes in May after a rough April. Companies in the S&P 500 are mostly finished with their latest results, which show a 5.3% gain in earnings overall.

Stocks were mostly higher in Europe and Asia.

Chinese markets slipped following U.S. plans to raise tariffs on imports from China.

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