By Stan Choe
Wall Street is rallying again Friday after reports suggested pressure on inflation may be easing. The stock market is rolling toward the close of a winning week, month and first half of the year.
The S&P 500 was 0.9% higher in early trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 193 points, or 0.6%, at 34,316, as of 9:45 a.m. Eastern time, while the Nasdaq composite was 1.3% higher.
The market has rallied through 2023 in part because the economy has been able to avoid a long-predicted recession. The job market in particular has remained resilient despite high interest rates that slow the economy in hopes of dragging down inflation. Not only that, Wall Street hopes inflation is cooling enough for the Federal Reserve to soon halt its hikes to rates.
A report on Friday showed the measure of inflation that the Fed prefers to use eased in May. It also said growth in spending by consumers slowed by more than expected. If fewer dollars are chasing after purchases, that could remove more pressure on inflation.
“There’s lots of noise around the edges, but tepid consumption growth and a downward trend for inflation means the end is near for rate hikes,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief economist at Annex Wealth Management.
The Fed has already hiked rates by a mammoth 5 percentage points from virtually zero early last year. Traders on Wall Street pared back bets that the Fed may hike interest rates twice again this year, with the majority betting on only one more increase, according to data from CME Group.
Yields in the bond market turned lower immediately after the release of the economic data. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 3.84% from nearly 3.87% just before the report’s release. It helps set rates for mortgages and other important loans.
The two-year Treasury yield, which moves more on expectations for the Fed, slipped to 4.87% from 4.90% just before the report’s release.
Easier interest rates help prices for all kinds of investments, from stocks to crypto. But technology and other high-growth stocks tend to be seen as some of the biggest winners, and they were helping to lead the market.
Nvidia rose 2.5%, for example. It’s been among a small cadre of stocks that have exploded higher this year amid a frenzy about artificial-intelligence software. It’s up roughly 185% for the year so far.
Apple climbed 1.4% and could become the first U.S. stock to end a day with a total market value of more than $3 trillion.
On the losing end of Wall Street was Nike. It fell 2.4% after reporting weaker profit for the latest quarter than expected, though its revenue topped forecasts.
All told, the S&P 500 is heading for its sixth winning week in its last seven and potentially its best month since October. The index is up 15.6% through the first six months of the year, which is better than it's done in 16 of the last 23 full years.
In stock markets abroad, indexes rallied across Europe with France’s CAC 40 up 1.4% and Germany’s DAX returning 1.3%.
In Asia, one of the world’s biggest-gaining stock markets this year took a breather after Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.1%. It still rose 27.2% in the first six months of 2023.
Stocks in Shanghai and South Korea rose 0.6%.
AP Business Writers Matt Ott and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.