NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged higher on Wednesday as recent comments from Federal Reserve officials helped tamp down concerns about runaway inflation and kept bond yields in check.
Stocks such as Tesla and Amazon, which have struggled in recent weeks as bond yields advanced due to rising inflation worries, were among the top boosts to the benchmark S&P 500 index with the 10-year U.S. Treasury note holding below the 1.6% level.
“The main thing I am looking at always is still the bond yields, that seems to be the driver. If we are still below 1.6%, that looks pretty good to me,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
“There is going to be some inflation but then it comes back to whether it is temporary or not. Until I see those bond yields pick up significantly, I think you are kind of buying right now.”
Higher yields pressure growth stocks, many of which are technology and tech-related, whose future cash flows are discounted at higher rates.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.2 points, or 0.01%, to 34,314.66, the S&P 500 gained 7.84 points, or 0.19%, to 4,195.97 and the Nasdaq Composite added 80.93 points, or 0.59%, to 13,738.11.
After fears of rising inflation roiled Wall Street’s main indexes earlier this month, all eyes will be on the closely watched monthly U.S. personal consumption report, the Fed’s favorite inflation gauge, due later in the week.
Multiple Fed officials have commented in recent days on inflation, maintaining the central bank views it as transitory and has the tools to clamp down if it begins to run too hot. However, they have also edged closer to starting the debate about tapering, or reducing, its massive fiscal stimulus plan.
With the S&P 500 sitting just about 1% away from its record high, strategists expect the benchmark index to end the year only about 2.5% above its current level as concerns over increasing inflationary risks weigh, according to a Reuters poll.
Trading volumes are likely to lessen heading into the extended Memorial Day holiday weekend, which could exacerbate price moves.
Amazon gained 0.40% after announcing it is buying MGM, the U.S. movie studio home to the James Bond franchise, for $8.45 billion, giving it a huge library of films and TV shows and ramping up competition with streaming rivals led by Netflix and Disney+.
Drug retailers such as Walgreens, CVS Health and Rite Aid Corp all lost ground after a report Amazon is considering the launch of physical pharmacies in the United States.
Ford Motor Co gained 8.16% after it outlined plans to boost spending on its electrification efforts by more than a third.
Department store operator Nordstrom Inc dropped 6.09% after reporting a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, hurt by price markdowns.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.18-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.80-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 18 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 49 new highs and 39 new lows.
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