Dow leads Wall St higher in lean trading week

March 27, 2024 – 7:11 AM PDT

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main stock indexes ticked higher on Wednesday, with the blue-chip Dow leading gains in thin trading ahead of crucial economic data, commentary from the Federal Reserve’s policymakers and a long holiday weekend.


The Dow (.DJI) and the S&P 500 (.SPX) recorded their third consecutive declines in the previous session, as most megacaps were under pressure and stocks struggled to maintain an upwards momentum.

Investors looked forward to comments from Fed Board Governor Christopher Waller, who is set to speak at the Economic Club of New York later in the day.

“The Fed’s Chris Waller may offer a rebuke of Jay Powell’s dovishness today,” said Thierry Wizman, global FX & rates strategist at Macquarie.

“While not dismissing the prospect of a June cut, Waller may point to sturdy U.S. aggregate demand and ‘sticky’ inflation in the January and February data to justify fewer rate cuts than the median ‘dots’ imply.”

All three major U.S. stock indexes eye quarterly gains as an artificial intelligence-fueled rally helped Wall Street reach record highs recently. Optimism about the Fed cutting borrowing costs later in the year also added to gains.

The Dow remains on track to breach the 40,000-point level for the first time.

Traders see a 70% chance the Fed will begin its easing cycle in June, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE), the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, is due on Good Friday, when the U.S. stock market will be closed.

An upside surprise to inflation could potentially dampen market enthusiasm around early rate cuts.

Also on tap this week is the final fourth-quarter GDP print, the University of Michigan’s reading of consumer sentiment and weekly jobless claims data.

At 9:35 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was up 283.04 points, or 0.72%, at 39,565.37, the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 29.65 points, or 0.57%, at 5,233.23, and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was up 66.90 points, or 0.41%, at 16,382.60.

Leading gains on the Dow, Merck & Co (MRK.N) rose 4.6% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its therapy for adults with high blood pressure due to constriction in lung arteries.

Trump Media & Technology Group (DJT.O) jumped 18.3%, a day after its stellar Nasdaq debut.

Robinhood Markets (HOOD.O) climbed 4.6% after the online trading app launched a new credit card.

GameStop (GME.N) plunged 14.6% after the videogame retailer reported lower fourth-quarter revenue and said it had cut an unspecified number of jobs to reduce costs.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 5.84-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.77-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 26 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 42 new highs and 22 new lows.

Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Pooja Desai

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