Wall Street ends sharply higher as investors eye inflation data

Reuters | February 13, 2023

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(Updates following end of session with price moves)

By Noel Randewich

(Reuters) – Wall Street closed sharply higher on Monday as investors awaited inflation data likely to hint at the path of the Federal Reserve’s future interest rate hikes, while Meta Platforms gained after a report that the Facebook parent was planning fresh layoffs.

Meta jumped about 3% after the Financial Times reported on Sunday that the company was preparing to announce a new round of job cuts, adding to layoffs last November.

Microsoft rose more than 3%, Nvidia gained 2.5%, and Apple and Amazon each rose over 1%. Along with Meta, those tech-related heavyweights contributed more than any other stocks to the S&P 500’s gains during a trading session that saw light volume.

Helping lift Microsoft, Stifel raised its price target on the software company and said it is clearly looking to upend Alphabet’s Google search dominance through its integration with ChatGPT.

Investors are laser-focused on January inflation data due on Tuesday to reassess their bets on the central bank’s monetary policy path.

Wall Street’s main indexes lost ground last week after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that interest rates may need to move higher than expected in the central bank’s battle against inflation.

“Today is just a natural reaction in the opposite direction after we’ve seen very heavy selling pressure,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments in Atlanta.

Ten of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes rose, led by information technology, up 1.77%, followed by a 1.46% gain in consumer discretionary. The energy index dipped 0.6%.

The S&P 500 climbed 1.15% to end the session at 4,137.32 points.

The Nasdaq gained 1.48% to 11,891.79 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.11% to 34,246.13 points.

However, volume on U.S. exchanges was relatively light, with 9.5 billion shares traded, compared to an average of 11.9 billion shares over the previous 20 sessions.

So far in this year, the S&P 500 has gained about 8%, and the index remains down about 14% from its record high close in January 2022.

Fidelity National Information Services Inc plunged 12.5% following the banking and payments processing conglomerate’s decision to spin off its merchant payments business.

Coca-Cola rose 1.6% ahead of its quarterly report due out early on Tuesday.

As U.S. quarterly earnings reports wind down, 69% of the S&P 500 firms that have reported results so far have exceeded profit expectations, according to Refinitiv data. Analysts expect December-quarter earnings to have fallen nearly 3% from a year earlier.

Across the U.S. stock market, advancing stocks outnumbered falling ones by a 2.5-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted four new highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 80 new highs and 59 new lows.

(Reporting by Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Sriraj Kalluvila, Shinjini Ganguli and Deepa Babington)

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