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Nasdaq, S&P 500 Reach Record Closing Highs On Positive Reaction To Inflation Data

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February 29 2024 11:32AM

Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Thursday but largely maintained a positive bias before ending the day mostly higher. The major averages all moved to the upside, with the Nasdaq (NASDAQI:COMP) and S&P 500 (SPI:SP500) reaching new record closing highs.

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 reached new highs for the session in late-day trading before giving back some ground going into the close.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 144.18 points or 0.9 percent to 16,091.92 and the S&P 500 climbed 26.51 points or 0.5 percent to 5,06.27.

Meanwhile, the narrower Dow (DOWI:DJI) spent most of the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before closing up 47.37 points or 0.1 percent at 38,996.39.

The strength on Wall Street came following the release of a highly anticipated Commerce Department report showing consumer prices in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of January.

The Commerce Department said consumer prices rose by 0.3 percent in January after inching up by a revised 0.1 percent in December.

Economists had expected consumer prices to rise by 0.3 percent compared to the 0.2 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices climbed by 0.4 percent in January after edging up by a revised 0.1 percent in December. The increase in core prices also matched estimates.

Meanwhile, the report said the annual rate of consumer price growth slowed to 2.4 percent in January from 2.6 percent in December. The slowdown matched expectations.

The annual rate of core consumer price growth also slowed to 2.8 percent in January from 2.9 percent in December, in line with estimates.

“The report was largely in line with economist estimates, which was seen a relief for investors who were concerned about the potential for hotter than expected inflation to start the year,” said Sam Millette, Director of Fixed Income for Commonwealth Financial Network.

The inflation readings are said to be favored by the Federal Reserve, and the data generated some optimism about the outlook for interest rates.

In other U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing a bigger than expected increase in weekly jobless claims, while a report from the National Association of Realtors unexpectedly showed a sharp pullback by pending home sales in January.

Sector News

Computer hardware stocks saw substantial strength the day, resulting in a 3.3 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Pure Storage (NYSE:PSTG) led the sector higher, with the data storage company soaring by 25.0 percent after reporting better than expected fourth quarter results and providing upbeat guidance.

Significant strength was also visible among semiconductor stocks, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index surging by 2.7 percent to a record closing high.

Gold stocks also turned in a strong performance amid an increase by the price of the precious metal, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 2.6 percent.

Housing, software and commercial real estate also saw strength on the day, while networking stocks showed a notable move to the downside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged down by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index surged by 1.9 percent.

The major European markets also ended the day mixed. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries gave back ground after an early advance but remained in positive territory. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, dipped 2.2 basis points to 4.252 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Friday may be impacted by reaction to the latest U.S. economic data, including reports on manufacturing activity, construction spending and consumer sentiment.

Source: RTTNEWS