U.S. stocks eked out modest gains on Friday and all three indexes posted another weekly advance as investors parsed comments from Federal Reserve officials and looked ahead to crucial inflation data next week.

The S&P 500 and the Dow were modestly higher and the Nasdaq ended essentially unchanged. All three indexes were up for the week with the blue-chip Dow nabbing its largest Friday-to-Friday percentage advance since mid-December.

Commentary from several Fed officials helped set expectations as market participants looked toward next week’s inflation data.

“Nobody really wants to take a big position prior to next week,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. “And we’re getting into a time of year where people seem to slip out early on Fridays.”

“The biggest story is the decline in Consumer Sentiment, but outside of that there isn’t much to hang your hat on,” Carlson added.

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic acknowledged recent clues the economy is slowing, but added the timing of rate cuts remains uncertain.

Striking a more hawkish tone, Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan said it was unclear whether monetary policy was tight enough to bring inflation down to the central bank’s 2% target.

Hints of progress toward that target will come next week when the Labor Department releases its Consumer and Producer price indexes (CPI and PPI).

Analysts expect the crucial CPI report to show underlying “core” price of 3.6% year-on-year, which would be the coolest reading in over three years.

“The Fed is geared not to raise rates but cut them, so ‘higher for longer’ is about as dire as it’s going to unless things really fall off the table,” said Paul Nolte, senior wealth advisor & market strategist at Murphy & Sylvest in Elmhurst, Illinois.

On Friday, the University of Michigan’s preliminary take on May Consumer Sentiment showed the mood of the American consumer has taken its biggest monthly plunge since August 2021, while near- and long-term inflation expectations heated up.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 7.96 points, or 0.15%, to end at 5,222.04 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 7.78 points, or 0.05%, to 16,338.49. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 122.59 points, or 0.31%, to 39,510.35.

First-quarter earnings season is approaching its finish line. Of the 459 of the companies in the S&P 500 that have reported, 77% delivered consensus-beating results, according to LSEG data.

Nvidia gained ground after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest chipmaker and a major supplier to Nvidia, reported a near 60% jump in April sales.

Novavax shares surged in the wake of the vaccine maker’s licensing deal worth up to $1.2 billion with Sanofi .

SoundHound AI jumped after beating first-quarter revenue estimates.


© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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