April 25th, 2024

Stock market today: S&P 500 and Nasdaq head toward records following reassuring inflation report

By Elaine Kurtenbach And Matt Ott, The Associated Press on February 29, 2024.

FILE - This Nov. 23, 2020 file photo shows the sign of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street’s latest winning month is heading toward a solid finish as U.S. stocks tick upward toward record heights. The S&P 500 was 0.5% higher early Wednesday and on track to surpass its record set last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 117 points. The Nasdaq composite was up 0.8% and above its record set in 2021. The bond market was relatively quiet after a closely followed inflation report showed prices across the country rose pretty much exactly as expected last month. The reassuring report kept intact hopes that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting interest rates in June.

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

Wall Street is poised to open with modest losses Thursday but still on track for a winning February despite a down week at the finish.

Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were 0.3% lower before the bell Thursday.

Though earnings season isn’t over, the vast majority of companies have reported quarterly results and the government’s latest inflation update will draw most of the attention on Thursday.

The Commerce Department’s report on consumer spending before markets open contains a measure of inflation that is closely watched by the Federal Reserve. The U.S. central bank has recently paused hiking its key lending rate after raising it to a 22-year high in an effort to corral inflation. Analysts forecast that year-over-year inflation ticked down in January to 2.3% from December’s 2.6%. The Fed’s target is 2%.

Also due Thursday is the Labor Department’s weekly layoffs report.

Processed food maker Hormel jumped nearly 5% in premarket after it breezed past Wall Street’s first-quarter profit targets.

Even though it nearly doubled analysts’ fourth-quarter profit projections, the cloud-computing company Snowflake tumbled more than 22% in off-hours trading after a surprise announcement that CEO Frank Slootman was retiring effective immediately. Slootman will be replaced by Sridhar Ramaswamy.

Artificial intelligence software maker C3.ai jumped 15.4% after it beat sales forecasts and only lost half as much money per share as Wall Street was expecting. The California tech company’s revenue grew 18% year-over-year, boosted by an even bigger jump in subscriptions.

In midday trading in Europe, Germany’s DAX and Britain’s FTSE 100 each added 0.4%, while the CAC 40 in Paris was down less than 0.1%.

In Asian trading, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index closed 0.1% lower at 39,166.19 after data showed factory output falling in January at the fastest pace since May 2020, although retail sales were stronger than expected.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.2% to 16,511.44 and the Shanghai Composite index jumped 1.9% to 3,015.17. The smaller index in Shenzhen surged 3.4% after regulators released new measures to support markets including closer oversight of financial derivatives.

But technology services company Baidu was down 6.6% after reporting its profit fell 48% in the October-December quarter due to higher spending as it strives to keep up with rivals in the artificial intelligence field.

South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.4% to 2,642.36 while the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5% to 7,698.70. Bangkok’s SET lost 0.4% and the Sensex in India was up 0.1%.

Bitcoin was trading at $62,513.00 early Thursday after breaching $64,000 briefly on Wednesday.

In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 11 cents to $78.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, was down 6 cents at $82.09 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar fell to 150.02 Japanese yen from 150.69 yen. The euro ticked down to $.0833 from $1.0834.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.2%,continuing its quiet and listless run since setting a record last week. The Dow industrials dipped 0.1% and the Nasdaq composite sank 0.5%, a day after pulling within 0.1% of its record set in 2021.

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