Wall Street rallies as investors eye inflation data

(Updates at mid-day with stock moves, investor comment)

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City

© Thomson Reuters
Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City

By Johann M Cherian and Noel Randewich

(Reuters) – Wall Street rallied on Monday as investors awaited inflation data likely to hint at the path of the Federal Reserve’s future interest rate hikes, while Meta Platforms gained after a report said the Facebook parent was planning fresh layoffs.

Microsoft and Nvidia climbed more than 3%, while Apple and Amazon were each up more than 1%. Those four tech-related heavyweights contributed more than any other stocks to the S&P 500’s gains for the session.

Helping lift Microsoft, Stifel raised its price target on the software company and said it is clearly looking to upend Alphabet’s Google search dominance through its integration with ChatGPT.

Investors are laser-focused on January inflation data due on Tuesday to reassess their bets on the central bank’s monetary policy path.

Wall Street’s main indexes lost ground last week after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that interest rates may need to move higher than expected in the central bank’s battle against inflation.

“Today is just a natural reaction in the opposite direction after we’ve seen very heavy selling pressure,” said Keith Buchanan, said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments in Atlanta.

Meta rose more than 3% after the Financial Times reported on Sunday that the company was preparing to announce a new round of job cuts, adding to layoffs last November.

Of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes, 10 rose, led by information technology, up 1.86%, followed by a 1.43% gain in consumer discretionary. The energy index dipped 0.3%.

In afternoon trading, the S&P 500 was up 1.05% at 4,133.27 points.

The Nasdaq gained 1.48% to 11,891.06 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.99% at 34,205.73 points.

Fidelity National Information Services Inc plunged almost 14% following the banking and payments processing conglomerate’s decision to spin off its merchant payments business.

As U.S. quarterly earnings reports wind down, 69% of the S&P 500 firms that have reported results so far have exceeded profit expectations, according to Refinitiv data on Friday. Analysts expect fourth-quarter earnings to fall nearly 3% from a year earlier.

Advancing issues outnumbered falling ones within the S&P 500 by a 7.5-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted four new highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 60 new highs and 50 new lows.

(Reporting by Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Sriraj Kalluvila, Shinjini Ganguli and Deepa Babington)