Saturday, May 25, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street drifts in mixed trading following a four-day losing streak

by Associated Press

U.S. stock indexes are drifting in a relatively quiet morning of mixed trading Thursday.

The S&P 500 was 0.1% lower, coming off its fourth straight loss. Another drop would send it to its longest losing streak since late October, when its big run to records began.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 117 points, as of 9:45 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.3% lower.

Elevance Health climbed 4.2% after the insurer raised its profit forecast for the full year. Homebuilder D.R. Horton rose 3.5% after reporting stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

They helped offset an 8.2% drop for Equifax, which reported weaker revenue for the latest quarter than expected. High interest rates are pressuring its mortgage credit inquiry business.

Stocks broadly have been struggling recently as yields in the bond market charge higher. They’re cranking up the pressure because investors have given up on hopes that the Federal Reserve will deliver many cuts to interest rates this year.

Yields edged a bit higher after a couple more reports on Thursday showed the U.S. economy remains stronger than expected.

One report said fewer workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than economists expected. It’s the latest sign that the job market remains remarkably solid despite high interest rates.

Another report said growth in manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region accelerated sharply, when economists were expecting a contraction.

Similar such data, along with a string of reports showing inflation has remained hotter than forecast this year, pushed top Fed officials to say recently they could hold interest rates high for a while.

It’s a letdown after the Fed earlier had signaled three cuts to interest rates could be possible this year.

But Fed officials have been adamant they want to be sure inflation is heading down toward their 2% target before lowering the Fed’s main interest rate from its highest level since 2001. Lower rates would juice the economy and financial markets, but they could also allow give inflation fuel to reaccelerate.

Traders are now forecasting just one or two cuts to rates this year, according to data from CME Group, down from expectations for six or more at the start of the year.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.62% from 4.59% late Wednesday. The two-year Treasury yield, which moves more closely with expectations for Fed action, rose to 4.97% from 4.94%.

The hoped-for upside on Wall Street of a strong economy that’s keeping interest rates high is that it could also drive strong growth in profits. Companies will need to deliver such strength in order to justify the run stock prices have been on since autumn, setting records along the way.

Comerica rose 2.7% after analysts said the bank gave forecasts for 2024 profit trends that were better than feared.

Alaska Air, the carrier that suffered a midflight blowout of a door plug on a Boeing aircraft in January, took a $162 million hit in its most recent quarter after it grounded its entire Boeing 737 Max fleet, but it projected better-than-expected profits the current quarter. Its stock rose 1.9%

Las Vegas Sands dropped 6.9% even though it reported better results than expected. Analysts said investors may be worried about competition the company is facing in Macau.

In stock markets abroad, indexes were moving only modestly across much of Europe after rising in Asia. South Korea’s Kospi jumped 2% to help lead the region.

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