Financial Markets 02/29 15:36
NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks climbed to more all-time highs Thursday as Wall
Street closed its latest winning month.
The S&P 500 rose 26.51 points, or 0.5%, to 5,096.27 to top its record set
last week. The Nasdaq composite led the market with a gain of 144.18, or 0.9%,
to 38,996.39 and surpassed its all-time that had stood since 2021. The Dow
Jones Industrial Average finished just below its record set last week after
rising 47.37 points, or 0.1%, to 38,996.39.
In the bond market, yields eased after a closely followed inflation report
showed prices across the country rose pretty much as expected last month. That
calmed worries that had built on Wall Street that the inflation data could show
a discomforting reacceleration. Earlier reports had shown prices rose more than
expected in January at both the consumer and wholesale levels.
"While inflation was hotter than it's been in a while, it may be more of a
flash in the pan than the start of something worse," said Brian Jacobsen, chief
economist at Annex Wealth Management.
Thursday's report kept intact hopes that the Federal Reserve may begin
cutting interest rates in June. Such a move would relax the pressure on the
economy and boost investment prices, and the Fed has indicated several cuts may
be coming this year.
The Fed's main interest rate is sitting at its highest level since 2001 in
hopes of grinding down inflation by dragging on the economy through more
expensive mortgage and credit-card payments. Hopes for coming cuts to rates
helped launch the U.S. stock market's big rally in late October, and the S&P
500 just closed its fourth straight winning month.
Relief on rates, though, would come only if the Fed sees additional
convincing data that inflation is sustainably heading down toward its target of
Traders have recently been pushing back forecasts for when the Fed may begin
cutting rates. A series of strong reports on the economy have pushed
expectations out from March. On Thursday, another report showed fewer U.S.
workers filed for unemployment benefits last week than economists expected.
It's the latest signal of a remarkably resilient job market.
In the meantime, the hope is that a solid economy will fuel growth in
profits for U.S. companies, even if it means a delay to rate cuts.
Salesforce.com became one of the latest companies to report better profit
for the latest quarter than analysts expected on Wednesday evening. The
customer-resource management software company also said it plans to begin
paying a quarterly dividend to its investors, but it gave a forecast for
revenue this upcoming year that was a bit below analysts' expectations. Its
stock climbed 3% after flipping between gains and losses in the morning.
Hormel Foods led the S&P 500 with a 14.6% leap after it reported stronger
profit and revenue than expected. It cited broad-based growth across its
brands, including Skippy peanut butter, Chi-Chi's salsa and Corn Nuts snacks.
Nvidia climbed 1.9% to recover losses from a back-to-back drop, a rare blip
in what's been a monster run amid Wall Street's frenzy around
artificial-intelligence technology. Because it's one of the biggest stocks on
Wall Street, Nvidia was one of the strongest forces lifting the S&P 500.
C3.ai jumped 24.5% after the software company reported a smaller loss than
analysts expected and stronger revenue.
They helped offset a 5.4% drop for Bath & Body Works. The seller of
fragrances, body lotion and three-wick candles reported better profit than
expected, helped by a strong holiday season, but it said sales may weaken this
Even though it nearly doubled analysts' fourth-quarter profit projections,
the cloud-computing company Snowflake tumbled 18.1% after a surprise
announcement that CEO Frank Slootman was retiring effective immediately.
Slootman will be replaced by Sridhar Ramaswamy.
Chemours tumbled 31.5% after it put its CEO and two other top executives on
administrative leave while the audit committee of its board conducts a review.
The company said it needs more time to complete its year-end reporting process,
and it delayed the release of its quarterly results, which was earlier planned
In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 4.25% from
4.27% late Wednesday.
The two-year yield, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed,
dipped to 4.63% from 4.65%. It had been near 4.70% shortly before the morning's
release of the inflation data.
In stock markets abroad, indexes were mixed.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 dipped 0.1% after data showed factory output falling in
January at the fastest pace since May 2020, though retail sales were stronger
Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.2%, while stocks in Shanghai jumped 1.9%.
The smaller index in Shenzhen surged even more after regulators released new
measures to support markets including closer oversight of financial derivatives.
AP Business Writers Matt Ott and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.