Thursday, April 18, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street hangs near its record highs ahead of a busy week

by Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are hanging near their records Monday at the start of a week with several influential economic reports.

The S&P 500 was 0.1% higher in early trading, coming off an all-time high and its latest winning month in a romp higher that began in late October. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 23 points, or 0.1%, as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.4% higher.

Miner Newmont rose 2.8% for one of the bigger gains in the S&P 500 as the price of gold continues to set records. The metal was up 1.8% at $2,278.90 per ounce.

AT&T fell 2.4% after saying over the weekend that sensitive information for millions of its current and former customers was recently found on the “dark web.”

In the bond market, Treasury yields ticked higher in their first trading since a report on Friday showed inflation is behaving as expected, at least by the measure that the Federal Reserve prefers to use. Both the U.S. bond and stock markets were closed on Friday.

The inflation data kept alive hopes that the Federal Reserve can start cutting its main interest rate in June. The Fed has hiked that rate to its highest level since 2001 in order to slow the economy and hurt investment prices enough to get inflation under control.

Expectations for coming cuts to rates have been a major reason the S&P 500 soared more than 20% from October through March. So too have been a cavalcade of reports showing the U.S. economy remains remarkably solid despite high interest rates.

This week will offer more updates on the job market and key areas of the economy, including data on the U.S. manufacturing industry, job openings across the country and the strength of U.S. services businesses. The headliner arrives on Friday, when economists expect a report to show that hiring cooled a bit last month.

A bit of a slowdown would be welcome on Wall Street, where the hope is that the economy remains solid but doesn’t get so strong that it puts upward pressure on inflation. Inflation is lower than it was at its peak nearly two years ago. But progress has become a bit bumpier this year, as several reports have come in hotter than expected.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said again on Friday that the central bank is waiting to get “more good inflation readings” before cutting interest rates this year. It’s been sticking with an outlook for three cuts to rates in 2024. Wall Street traders have come around to that as well, after earlier forecasting even more cuts this year.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.27% from 4.21% late Thursday. The two-year yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, ticked up to 4.64% from 4.63%.

In stock markets abroad, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.4% after a Bank of Japan quarterly survey on business conditions showed sentiment among large manufacturers declined for the first time in a year.

In China, stocks gained 1.2% in Shanghai after surveys suggested the country’s manufacturing industry is strengthening.

In Europe, stock markets were closed for a holiday.

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