S&P 500 closes slightly, traders digest earlier gains, Fed comments

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 15, 2023 in New York City, USA. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Obtain licensing rights

Nov 17 (Reuters) – The S&P 500 index rose on Friday as investors digested recent gains and comments from Federal Reserve officials clouded the outlook for when the U.S. central bank will start cutting interest rates.

Vice President for Supervision Michael Barr said he believed the central bank was at or near the peak of interest rate hikes, but San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and Boston Fed President Susan Collins highlighted the need for more sources to cool inflation.

Adding to the pressure, shares of Applied Materials ( AMAT.O ) fell after its third-quarter report and news.

Providing some support was a decline in the 10-year Treasury note yield, which touched a two-month low during the session.

The S&P 500 (.SPX), Nasdaq (.IXIC) and Dow (.DJI) posted their third straight week of gains. It was the longest weekly winning streak since July for the S&P and Dow. For the Nasdaq, it would be the longest weekly advance since June.

“The biggest booster for stocks today was a two-month low in Treasury yields,” said Robert Phipps, managing director at Per Sterling in Austin, Texas.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 2.14 points, or 0.01%, to 34,947.61, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 5.82 points, or 0.13%, to 4,514.06 and the Nasdaq Composite (IX) added 1.1 points, or 0.1%. , or 0.08%, 14,125.48.

“We’ve come a long way. We have to digest some of these moves and see what the next stimulus is. Earnings are behind us. The Fed is on hold and will be in December. The stock market is looking for guidance,” said Jack McIntyre, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global in Philadelphia.

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Looking for cues from the bond market, McIntyre expects November labor and inflation data to be the next big catalyst.

While the major indices had a muted session, Per Sterling’s Phips pointed to strength in more cyclical sectors.

“Tech stocks are weak today, masking strength in other parts of the S&P 500 market,” he said, pointing to gains in the energy (.SPNY), industrials (.SPLRCI) and financials (.SPSY) sectors.

Among the 11 major S&P 500 sectors, energy was the biggest percentage gainer as oil prices rose more than 4%.

The communications services index ( .SPLRCL ) fell as shares of Megacap Alphabet ( GOOGL.O ) fell along with Microsoft ( MSFT.O ).

Amazon.com ( AMZN.O ) was ranked. The online retailer announced job cuts at its Alexa voice assistant division, focusing more on shifting business priorities and artificial intelligence development.

The small-cap Russell 2000 Index (.RUT) outperformed the broader market.

Demand for retailer stocks rose after off-price clothing and home goods retailer Ross Stores ( ROST.O ) raised its annual earnings forecast after topping third-quarter sales and profit expectations.

Gap ( GPS.N ) shares rose after the apparel retailer posted better-than-expected third-quarter results due to improving sales at Old Fleet and easing supply costs.

Shares of ChargePoint Holdings ( CHPT.N ) fell after the electric vehicle charging network provider cut estimates for third-quarter earnings. It also named Rick Willmer as CEO.

Reporting by Sinead Carew in New York, Shristi Achar A and Amrutha Khandekar in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel, Pooja Desai and David Gregorio

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Shristi is a reporter and is part of the Markets team reporting on equity markets in the US, UK, Canada, Europe and emerging markets.

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