July 22nd, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street inches higher ahead of inflation report

By Damian J. Troise And Alex Veiga, The Associated Press on June 27, 2024.

The Fearless Girl statue stands in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, June 26, 2024 in New York. Shares have advanced in Europe and Asia after a rebound for Nvidia offset weakness on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

NEW YORK – Stocks inched higher on Wall Street as markets wait for a key report on inflation. The S&P 500 edged up 0.1% Thursday. The Nasdaq composite added 0.3%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1%. Walgreens Boots Alliance sank more than 22% after reporting results that fell shy of forecasts and cutting its outlook. The company said it could close hundreds more stores in the next three years. Treasury yields fell in the bond market. The government releases a closely watched report on inflation on Friday that could influence the Federal Reserve’s next move on interest rates.

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

Major stock indexes on Wall Street are barely moving in afternoon trading Thursday ahead of a key report on inflation.

The S&P 500 was down less than 0.1% and stocks in the benchmark index were roughly split between gainers and losers. The index is hovering near the all-time high it set last week.

The Nasdaq composite rose 0.3% and is just below its all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 19 points, or 0.1%, as of 3:18 p.m. Eastern.

Walgreens Boosts Alliance plunged 24.5% for the biggest drop in the S&P 500. It reported results that fell shy of forecasts and cut its outlook. The company said it could close hundreds more stores in the next three years.

Jeans maker Levi Strauss sank 16.1% after its latest quarterly revenue results fell short of analysts’ expectations, along with its current earnings forecast for the year.

Spice maker McCormick rose 3.8% for one of the biggest gains in the market after beating analysts’ earnings forecasts.

Chipmaker Micron Technology fell 5.7% after its latest forecast left investors disappointed.

Treasury yields fell in the bond market. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 4.29% from 4.33% late Wednesday. The yield on the two-year Treasury fell to 4.72% from 4.75%.

An update from the government said the American economy expanded at a 1.4% annual pace from January through March. The figure is a slight revision from a prior estimate of 1.3%. It marks the slowest quarterly growth since spring 2022.

The report also backed data from previous economic reports that show consumers are getting squeezed by persistent inflation and high interest rates. Consumer spending, which has been fueling economic growth, grew at just a 1.5% rate, down from an initial estimate of 2%, according to the report.

The main upshot from the report is that “the economy remained resilient in the first quarter but that private sector demand growth was cooling led by more consumer prudence,” said Gregory Daco, EY chief economist, in a note.

The slowdown in consumer spending could help further ease inflation, but too much of a slowdown could result in a more painful hit to the economy. The Federal Reserve is trying to time its efforts tame inflation back to its 2% target without slowing the economy so much that it slips into a recession.

The stock market has been listless throughout the week ahead of the next influential inflation report on Friday. The government will release its latest personal consumption expenditures index, or PCE. It is the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation.

Economists expect the the report to show a modest easing of inflation to 2.6% in May, following a 2.7% reading in April. That’s down from the PCE’s peak of 7.1% in the middle of 2022. Other measures of inflation, including the consumer price index, have also eased significantly over the last two years.

The latest updates on inflation could influence the central bank’s decision on when to begin cutting interest rates, which remain at their highest level in more than 20 years and which are having an impact worldwide. Wall Street is betting that the central bank will start cutting interest rates at its September meeting.

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