S&P 500 leaps to highest close in 14 months

BENGALURU: The S&P 500 and Nasdaq surged on Thursday to close at their highest in 14 months, as investors cheered economic data that fuelled bets that the US Federal Reserve is nearing the end of its aggressive interest-rate hike campaign.

Treasury yields slid after a slew of economic data pointed to easing inflation, helping offset worries about future rate hikes and boosting Apple and Microsoft to record highs.

Data showed US retail sales unexpectedly rose in May as consumers spent on a range of goods including vehicles. Another data set showed jobless claims were unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 262,0000 for the week ended June 10, but were above economists’ forecast of 249,000 claims.

Additionally, import prices fell in May and the annual decrease was the sharpest in three years. That followed a report on Tuesday showing April headline inflation increased by less than expected.

The Fed left rates unchanged at the 5%-5.25% range on Wednesday and indicated it may hike by at least half a percentage point this year as inflation remains persistent.

“Due to softer inflation data earlier this week and resilient economic data after the Fed meeting, the market is rallying and yields are falling because investors don’t believe the Fed is as hawkish as they presented,” said Ross Mayfield, an investment strategy analyst at Baird.

“The market doesn’t believe they have two more hikes in the chamber.”

Traders see a 67% chance of a 25-basis point rate hike in July, followed by a potential rate cut by December, according to the CME Fedwatch tool.

Thursday’s gains were broad and included sectors viewed as sensitive to swings in the health of the economy. All 11 S&P 500 sector indexes rose, led by health care, up 1.55%, followed by a 1.54% gain in communication services.

US Treasury yields pulled back, lifting shares of rate-sensitive growth stocks.

Apple rose 1.1%, while Microsoft rallied 3.2%, beating its previous record high close in November 2021.

“There is a great deal of money on the sidelines of people who’d been scared of recession, and as the worries go away people are returning to equities,” said David Russell, vice president of Market Intelligence at TradeStation.

So far in 2023, the S&P 500 is up about 15% and the Nasdaq has climbed about 32%, fueled by signs of economic resilience, a better-than-expected earnings season and bets that interest rates are near their peak.

The S&P 500 climbed 1.22% to end the session at 4,425.84 points.

The Nasdaq increased 1.15% to 13,782.82 points, bringing its gain this week to almost 4%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.26% to 34,408.06 points.

Volume on US exchanges was relatively heavy, with 11.8 billion shares traded, compared to an average of 10.9 billion shares over the previous 20 sessions.

Kroger Co dropped 2.7% after the big-box retailer missed first-quarter revenue estimates.

Kohl’s Corp rose 2.7% after TD Cowen upgraded the department store operator to “outperform” from “market perform”.

US-listed shares of Chinese companies Alibaba Group and JD.com each gained more than 3% after the People’s Bank of China cut the borrowing cost for its medium-term policy loans for the first time in 10 months.

Advancing issues outnumbered falling ones within the S&P 500 by a 7.1-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 48 new highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 80 new highs and 72 new lows. — Reuters