Wall Street’s main indexes climbed on Thursday as fears of a banking crisis eased, with rate-sensitive real estate and technology stocks leading gains ahead of key inflation data that could shape the Federal Reserve‘s policy path.Investors await the February reading of personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, due on Friday after January figures showed a sharp acceleration in consumer spending.
Data on Thursday showed jobless claims last week rose more than expected from the week before indicating a cooling labor market, while fourth-quarter GDP growth was slightly lower at 2.6% compared with earlier estimates of 2.7%, both supporting the case for a softer Fed policy.”In some ways, the Fed simply wanted to see a cyclical slowdown, and we are seeing signs of that. It helps to confirm that the Fed is near the end of tightening,” said David Russell, vice president of Market Intelligence at TradeStation.The banking turmoil, which started earlier this month with the collapse of two regional U.S. lenders, had sparked concerns about a broader financial crisis and led to a dramatic shift in monetary policy expectations from the Fed.Traders’ bets are now almost equally split between a pause and a 25-basis-point rate hike by the Fed in May, according to CME Group’s Fedwatch tool.
Megacaps Apple Inc, Tesla Inc, Amazon.com and Microsoft Corp rose 0.8% to 1.2%, lifting the consumer discretionary and technology indexes by about 1% each. Real-estate stocks led sectoral gains, up 1.3%.Both the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq are headed for quarterly gains, with the latter on course for its best quarter since the end of 2020.”The first quarter is dominated really by the growth sectors. Most of the quarter has been a question of thinking the Fed (is) done and people coming back to those names,” said Russell.
Investors will also parse comments from Boston Fed President Susan Collins, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and Richmond President Thomas Barkin later in the day for clues on the central bank’s monetary policy plans following the banking crisis.At 11:56 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 34.76 points, or 0.11%, at 32,752.36, the S&P 500 was up 18.15 points, or 0.45%, at 4,045.96, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 85.47 points, or 0.72%, at 12,011.70.Among other stocks, Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc rose 3.7% after the company said it has started production of its first luxury electric car after a months-long delay.
Kohl’s Corp climbed 4.9% after its chief executive officer bought shares in the company. U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba Group Holding advanced 4.3% on a report that its logistics arm had started preparations with banks for its Hong Kong initial public offering, while those of JD.Com jumped 8.8% on plans to spin off its real estate infrastructure arm.Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.82-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.39-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.The S&P index recorded six new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 54 new highs and 77 new lows.