U.S. stocks were trading higher Friday afternoon, with the technology-laden Nasdaq Composite leading the way up, as investors weigh signs of easing inflation and improving consumer sentiment. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are each on track to book a fourth straight week of gains.
How are stocks trading?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
gained 348 points, or 1%, to almost 33,685.
The S&P 500
rose 59 points, or 1.4%, to almost 4,267.
The Nasdaq Composite
advanced nearly 226 points, or 1.8%, to almost 13,006.
On Thursday, stocks finished mixed with the Nasdaq Composite
dropping 0.6% to 12,779.91, a day after it officially exited a bear market. The S&P 500 index
slipped 0.1% to 4,207.27 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average
gained 0.1% to finish at 33,336.67.
What’s driving markets?
U.S. stocks were on the rise Friday afternoon, extending the recovery since the lows for year so far in June, according to FactSet data.
“The S&P 500 has had a great rebound since the June 16 low,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, in a phone interview Friday. “I think we’ll see another pullback, he said, “but at this point I would be very surprised if we set a new low.”
Inflation may have peaked in June, with the consumer-price index report for July, released earlier this week, showing signs of price pressures easing, according to Frederick. The notion that the pace of inflation may be slowing from high levels is helping to fuel this week’s rally, he said.
After a week that has delivered optimistic news on both consumer price inflation and producer prices, investors received another encouraging piece of data as the University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index for August showed a modest improvement over July.
The headline index rose to 55.1 in August from 51.5 in July, while one-year inflation expectations dropped to 5% this month, from 5.2% the month prior. Joanne Hsu, director of the survey, pointed to a discrepancy in sentiment between low- and middle-income consumers, and the wealthier subset.
“All components of the expectations index improved this month, particularly among low and middle income consumers for whom inflation is particularly salient. High income consumers, who generate a disproportionate share of spending, registered large declines in both their current personal finances as well as buying conditions for durables,” Hsu said.
Others saw the data as the latest indication that the Federal Reserve are succeeding in their battle against inflation.
“All things considered, we still think that headline inflation will drop below 2% by the middle of next year. But we would stress that the balance of risks is shifting, with downside risks now dominating. It’s no longer out of the question that headline inflation could briefly turn negative in the second half of 2023,” wrote Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
All three major stock benchmarks are heading for weekly gains, with the blue-chip gauge Dow Jones Industrial Average on track to rise 2.7%, the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite heading for a 2.9% gain and the S&P 500 on pace to advance 2.8%, FactSet data show, at last check.
That would mark a fourth straight week of gains for the S&P 500 and the longest winning streak since the week ended Nov. 27, 2020, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The Nasdaq was also set for a fourth straight weekly win, potentially its longest winning streak since the week ended Nov. 5, 2021.
Still, small-cap stocks have seen stronger gains this week, with the Russell 2000
Index on pace to jump slightly more than 4%.
“They had gotten very cheap,” after underperforming in “the selloff in the first part of this year relative to large-caps,” said Justin Tugman, a portfolio manager at Janus Henderson who focuses on small-cap and mid-cap value stocks, by phone Friday. He said that many small-cap companies have seen “strong earnings,” particularly within industrials.
As investors worry about the potential for an economic contraction, Tugman at this stage expects the U.S. may see “pockets of recession,” as opposed to one where every industry suffers. He pointed to weakness “on the consumer-side,” in areas such as apparel, as people feel the pinch from high inflation.
As the Fed aims to bring inflation under control by raising interest rates, Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Barkin on Friday wouldn’t commit to either a 50 basis point or a 75 basis point rate hike in September, and he also said that he would like to see inflation below the Fed’s 2% target for a “sustained” period before voting to cut interest rates again.
“I’d like to see a period of sustained inflation under control, and until we do that I think we are just going to have to move rates into restrictive territory,” Barkin told CNBC during an on-air interview.
Charles Schwab’s Frederick said that he is currently expecting the Fed to raise its benchmark rate by 0.5% at its September meeting, followed by potentially a quarter point hike in November. “I expect the pause to probably happen in December, which means the tightening cycle is probably over by the end of the calendar year,” he said.
All told, U.S. stocks continued to flash a bullish signal on Friday, said Mohannad Aama, a portfolio manager at Beam Capital Management. “Overall, still it is clearly risk-on this week and into today so far,” Aama said.
Which companies are in focus?
said it lost $1.7 billion, or $1.89 a share, in the second quarter, compared with a loss of $580 million, or $5.74 a share, in the year-ago period. Shares edged up 0.1% on the news.
China Life Insurance
and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp
and Aluminum Corp. of China
were among the companies to have separately announced their intention to delist from the New York Stock Exchange, a unit of the Intercontinental Exchange. PetroChina, ChinaLife, China Petroleum and Aluminum Corp. of China were trading down Friday afternoon, while Sinopec was up 2.4%.
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.
and GameStop Corp.
were mixed Friday afternoon amid a meme stocks rally. AMC shares fell 3.3%, Bed Bath & Beyond soared 18% and GameStop gained 3.3%.
How are other assets faring?
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
was down about 4 basis points at around 2.85%. Treasury yields and prices move in opposite directions.
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
a gauge of the dollar’s strength against a basket of rivals, was up 0.5%.
Gold futures ended higher, with gold for December delivery
settling 0.5% higher at $1,815.50 an ounce, with the most-active contract rising for a fourth straight week in its longest win streak since Dec. 31, 2021, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index ended 0.1% lower Friday, but gained 1.5% for the week. The Hang Seng index
gained 0.5% in Hong Kong on Friday, paring its weekly loss to 0.1%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 JP:NIK climbed 2.6%, bringing its weekly gain to 1.3%.
—Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this report.