July 18th, 2024

Stock market today: Most of Wall Street slips, but hopes for AI and rates send indexes to records

By Stan Choe, The Associated Press on June 13, 2024.

FILE - The New York Stock Exchange is shown on June 12, 2024 in New York. European shares are lower and Asian shares ended mixed on Thursday, June 13, 2024, after the Federal Reserve opted to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

NEW YORK (AP) – Most U.S. stocks fell, but hopes for coming cuts to interest rates and Wall Street’s continued frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology sent indexes to more record highs. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% Thursday after a day of drifting between shallow gains and losses, beating the all-time high it set the day before. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.3%, also setting another record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%. Chipmaker Broadcom soared 12.3%. Treasury yields eased again in the bond market as conviction built that inflation is slowing enough to get the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates later this year.

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

NEW YORK (AP) – Most U.S. stocks are slipping Thursday, but hopes for coming cuts to interest rates and Wall Street’s continued frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology are keeping indexes near their records.

The S&P 500 was adding 0.1% in afternoon trading to its all-time high set the day before, after drifting between shallow gains and losses earlier in the day. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.3% from its own record, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 81 points, or 0.2%, as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Treasury yields eased again in the bond market as conviction built that inflation is slowing enough to get the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates later this year.

The latest update on inflation showed prices paid at the wholesale level weren’t as bad as economists expected. Prices actually dropped from April into May, when economists were forecasting a rise.

It followed a surprising update from Wednesday that showed inflation at the consumer level was lower than expected. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell called that report encouraging and said policymakers need more such data before lowering their main interest rate from the most punishing level in two decades.

“It’s a question of when they cut, not if,” said Niladri “Neel” Mukherjee, chief investment officer of TIAA Wealth Management.

High interest rates have been dragging on some parts of the economy, particularly manufacturing. A separate report on Thursday showed more U.S. workers filed for unemployment last week than economists expected, though the number is still low relative to history.

The hope on Wall Street is that growth for the job market and economy continues to slow in order to take pressure off inflation, but not so much that it creates a deep recession.

Companies whose profits are most closely tied to the strength of the economy lagged the market Thursday following the reports, such as industrial companies and oil-and-gas producers.

Dave & Buster’s Entertainment sank 10.5% after reporting worse drops in profit and revenue for the latest quarter than expected, citing a “complex macroeconomic environment” among other reasons. Other companies have recently been detailing a split among their customers, where lower-income households are struggling to keep up with still-high inflation.

Some companies have been able to skyrocket regardless of the pressures on the economy because of an ongoing frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology.

Broadcom jumped 12.6% after the semiconductor company reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected, aided once again by AI demand. It also raised its forecast for revenue this year.

Broadcom’s stock price has jumped so high, to nearly $1,700, that it will soon give nine shares for every one that investors already hold in hopes of lowering the price and making it more affordable. It follows a similar move by Nvidia, which has become the poster child of the AI rush and seen its total market value top $3 trillion.

Tesla rose 4.1% after CEO Elon Musk said early voting results indicate shareholders are about to approve his pay package. Without it, Musk had threatened to take AI research to one of his other companies.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 4.24% from 4.32% late Wednesday and from 4.60% late last month. The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for the Fed, fell to 4.69% from 4.76%.

Most Fed officials are penciling in either one or two cuts to interest rates this year, and traders are hopeful they can begin as soon as September, according to data from CME Group. Such cuts would ease the pressure on the economy and give a boost to all kinds of investment prices.

TIAA’s Mukherjee said he’s expecting the U.S. economy’s growth to keep slowing as spending by lower-income households weakens under the strain of dwindling or emptied savings accounts. But he expects the economy to avoid a recession as spending continues by well-off households benefiting from fatter investment portfolios and home values, as well as by governments and corporations.

“To me, the soft landing” for the economy where inflation eases without a deep recession “has already been achieved,” he said.

But he has muted expectations for stocks for the rest of the year after they’ve already gained so much. The S&P 500 has already jumped nearly 14%. Plus, he points to the potential for shakiness in financial markets around upcoming elections, including the U.S. presidential face-off.

European markets have gotten rocked after recent elections saw a surge in support for the far right in places like France and Germany. Volatility also hit markets recently after investors learned the election results in other countries, such as Mexico and India.

European stocks fell sharply Thursday as leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations gathered in Italy. France’s CAC 40 fell 2%, and Germany’s DAX lost 2%.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.4% ahead of a decision on interest rates by Japan’s central bank coming on Friday. Indexes rose in Seoul and Hong Kong.

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AP Business Writers Yuri Kageyama and Matt Ott contributed.

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