Monday, April 15, 2024

Stocks add to weekly gains, pushing S&P 500 back to record

by Associated Press

Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, continuing an upturn this week that has brought the S&P 500 back to the record high level it reached a week and a half ago. The benchmark index was up 0.6% in the early going Thursday. Technology and health care companies were making some of the biggest gains, while safe-play sectors like utilities and real estate were lagging behind. European markets were also trading higher, and Asian markets closed mostly higher overnight. Bond prices were steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was little changed at 1.48%. Crude oil prices slipped.

World shares were mostly higher Thursday as investors awaited new U.S. inflation data.

Benchmarks rose in Paris, Frankfurt and Hong Kong but were flat in Tokyo and Shanghai.

Fresh data on inflation will come on Friday with the release of the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge. It will cover May, when the consumer price index saw year-over-year inflation of 5%.

Germany’s DAX gained 0.6% to 15,547.75 and the CAC 40 in Paris picked up 0.7% to 6,599.78. In Britain, the FTSE 100 added 0.2% to 7,084.64.

U.S. futures were higher after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed a pared-down plan for $559 billion in new infrastructure spending that could open the door to President Joe Biden’s more sweeping $4 trillion proposals.

Biden invited members of the group to the White House on Thursday to discuss the $953 billion infrastructure plan.

The futures for both the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 gained 0.5%.

Markets have calmed notably since the Federal Reserve surprised investors last week by saying it could start raising short-term interest rates by late 2023, earlier than expected, if recent high inflation persists.

The super-low rates the Fed engineered to carry the economy through the pandemic have propped up prices across markets, and any change would be a big deal, so the Fed’s announcement triggered selling of stocks and a rise in Treasury yields.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index was flat at 28,875.23 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.2% higher to 28,882.46. In Seoul, the Kospi added 0.3% to 3,286.10.

The Shanghai Composite index was virtually unchanged at 3,566.65, while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.2% to 7,275.30.

Shares rose in India and Taiwan but fell in Southeast Asia.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 4,241.84 after meandering between very modest gains and losses. It’s 0.3% below its record high set a week and a half ago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 33,874.24, while the Nasdaq composite added to its record set a day before, inching up 0.1% to 14,271.73.

Most stocks in the S&P 500 fell, but gains for financial companies and others that do best when the economy is healthy helped limit the losses.

If higher inflation continues, the central bank will have to get more aggressive about raising rates. But before that, it will likely first have to reduce the bond purchases it’s making to keep longer-term interest rates low. Then it will actually begin tapering, before ending tapering and then signaling that a rate hike is coming.

In the meantime, the economy continues to roar higher, and corporate profits are soaring.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury inched up to 1.49% from 1.48% late Wednesday.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil picked up 43 cents to $73.51 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 23 cents to $73.08 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 40 cents to $74.90 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar fell to 110.85 Japanese yen from 110.99 yen. The euro rose to $1.1933 from $1.1930.

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