April 22nd, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street holds steady near record highs

By Stan Choe, The Associated Press on February 27, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks held relatively steady on Wall Street near their record levels. The S&P 500 managed a gain of 0.2% Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4%. Macy’s rose after unveiling a restructuring plan, and Norwegian Cruise Line steamed higher on hopes for a stronger 2024. Chevron weighed on the Dow amid worries that its pending takeover of Hess may be facing a threat. Treasury yields were mixed in the bond market after a report showed that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly weakened. The yield on the 10-year Treasury edged up to 4.31%

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. stocks are holding relatively steady Tuesday near their record levels.

The S&P 500 fell 0.1% in afternoon trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 149 points, or 0.4%, as of 1:56 p.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite mostly unchanged.

Macy’s climbed 3% after reporting better results for the latest quarter than feared. It also announced a sweeping reorganization as it tries to kickstart growth in revenue. It will close about 150 stores and focus on opening new Bloomingdale’s and BlueMercury locations.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings steamed 16.3% higher for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after it said it’s seeing healthy demand from customers. It also gave a forecast for earnings this upcoming year that was bigger than analysts’ own.

Lowe’s gained 1.4% after reporting a better profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. But it also gave a forecast for revenue this upcoming year that was weaker than analysts had penciled in, and it said a slowdown is continuing for DIY projects.

Zoom Video Communications climbed after topping analysts’ forecasts for profit last quarter. It rose 7% to $65.80, though it’s still well below its peak above $500 during the height of the pandemic. It also announced a program to buy back up to $1.5 billion of its stock, which would send cash directly to shareholders.

Those winners helped offset a 1.9% drop for Chevron, which warned that its pending takeover of Hess may be under threat. The energy companies are in discussions with Exxon Mobil and China National Offshore Oil Corp. about a joint operating agreement for a project off Guyana’s shore. If they can’t come to an acceptable resolution, Chevron said in a filing with U.S. securities regulators that its merger with Hess may not close.

Chevron was one of the main reasons for the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s slide. Hess fell 3.2%.

Nvidia was mostly unchanged following a jaw-dropping run. Its stock is still up more than 50% so far this year after soaring nearly 240% last year amid Wall Street’s frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology.

Nvidia’s stock packs an extra weight on the S&P 500 because it’s the third-largest stock on Wall Street by market value. It and a handful of other Big Tech companies have been responsible for a huge, disproportionate amount of the S&P 500’s rally since its bottom in October 2022.

To see how top-heavy the market has become, consider how the S&P 500 would be behaving if it gave each stock’s movement the same weight. The S&P 500 is beating that equal-weighted index on a one-year rolling basis by a wide margin, “just a whisker shy of the Dot.com bubble record highs,” according to strategists at Barclays.

Unlike that bubble, though, the companies driving the growth this time are actually making profits and not flying on just hype.

“As such the investment case for continued outperformance remains intact, but arguably more vulnerable to occasional corrections, given ebullient sentiment,” according to the strategists led by Stefano Pascale and Anshul Gupta.

Along with tech stocks, cryptocurrency prices have also been running higher. Bitcoin rose above $57,000 and is up by more than a third so far this year already.

New exchange-traded funds that hold bitcoin have made investing in the cryptocurrency easier, while also driving business for Coinbase and others who safeguard those ETFs’ bitcoins. Coinbase rose 2.3% Tuesday to bring its gain for the year so far to 14%.

Earnings reporting season is winding down for the big companies in the S&P 500, and the hope is that a remarkably solid U.S. economy will help profits grow through this year.

A report in the morning showed orders for long-lasting manufactured goods were weaker last month than economists expected, but they were better than forecast after ignoring airplanes and other transportation items.

A separate report said that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly slipped. Confidence had been on the upswing, and it’s a closely followed figure on Wall Street because spending by consumers makes up the bulk of the U.S. economy.

On the upside for investors, the report also showed that expectations for inflation among U.S. consumers ticked down a bit.

Treasury yields were mixed but holding relatively steady following the reports. Yields have been climbing so far this year as traders push back forecasts for when the Federal Reserve may begin cutting interest rates.

The Fed has already pulled its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001 in hopes of grinding down high inflation. With inflation cooling since its peak two years ago, the Fed has said it may cut rates several times this year. But a suite of stronger-than-expected reports on the economy have pushed back expectations for the start of those cuts toward June from March.

In stock markets abroad, indexes were mostly higher across Asia and Europe. Stocks jumped 1.3% in Shanghai but sank 0.8% in Seoul. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was little changed, remaining near its highest level in history.

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AP Business Writers Matt Ott and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.

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