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Inflation Data May Contribute To Initial Strength On Wall Street

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November 30 2023 04:04AM

The major U.S. index futures are currently pointing to a higher open on Thursday, with stocks likely to move to the upside following the lackluster performance seen in the previous session.

Early buying interest may be generated in reaction to a Commerce Department report showing consumer price growth in the U.S. slowed in line with economist estimates in the month of October.

The report said the annual rate of consumer price growth decelerated to 3.0 percent in October from 3.4 percent in September. The slowdown matched expectations.

Core consumer price growth also slowed in line with estimates, slipping to 3.5 percent in October from 3.7 percent in September. Core consumer prices exclude food and energy prices.

The inflation readings, which are said to be preferred by the Federal Reserve, were included in the Commerce Department’s report on personal income and spending during the month.

The report said personal income edged up by 0.2 percent in October after climbing by 0.4 percent in September. The uptick came in line with economist estimates.

Personal spending also increased in line with estimates, rising by 0.2 percent in October following a 0.7 percent advance in September.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed a modest increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended November 25th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims inched up to 218,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 211,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 220,000 from the 209,000 originally reported for the previous week.

After ending Tuesday’s session modestly higher, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. Despite the choppy trading on the day, the Dow inched up to its best closing level in over three months.

The major averages eventually ended the day narrowly mixed. While the Dow crept up 13.44 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 35,430.42, the Nasdaq slipped 23.27 points or 0.2 percent to 14,258.49 and the S&P 500 edged down 4.31 points or 0.1 percent to 4,550.58.

Stocks saw early strength amid ongoing optimism about the outlook for interest rates despite conflicting remarks by Federal Reserve officials.

While Fed Governor Christopher Waller said Tuesday he is “increasingly confident that policy is currently well positioned,” Fed Governor Michelle W. Bowman said she expects further rate hikes will be needed.

Traders seem to be focusing more on the comments that reinforce expectations the Fed will leave policy unchanged until cutting rates beginning in mid-2024.

Positive sentiment also generated in reaction to a surge by shares of General Motors (GM), with the auto giant spiking by 9.4 percent after announcing $10 billion stock buyback and increasing its dividend.

Buying interest waned as the day progressed, however, with traders looking ahead to the release of key inflation readings on Thursday.

Computer hardware stocks saw substantial strength on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index up by 2.9 percent to a record closing high.

Data infrastructure company NetApp (NTAP) led the sector higher after reporting better than expected fiscal second quarter results and raising its fiscal third quarter and full-year guidance.

Significant strength was also visible among banking stocks, as reflected by the 2.0 percent surge by the KBW Bank Index. The index reached its best closing level in over three months.

Telecom, brokerage and semiconductor stocks also saw notable strength, while tobacco stocks and energy stocks moved to the downside.