Dow, S&P 500 hit records as inflation growth slows

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 hit intraday records on Wednesday, as data indicated U.S. inflation growth may have peaked, while sectors tied to economic growth advanced on the heels of the passage of a large infrastructure bill.

FILE PHOTO: A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 5, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The Labor Department said the consumer price index increased 0.5% last month after climbing 0.9% in June, the largest drop in month-to-month inflation in 15 months, easing concerns about the potential for runaway inflation.

“We will take the modest positive and take whatever tailwind it provides to stocks today but all it really did is remove a little potential anxiety in the event that it had been much worse than it turned out to be,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Boston.

“But the whole debate about whether or not inflation is transitory or not is less unresolved as a result of this report today so the follow through is somewhat limited.”

Investors have been closely attuned to inflation pressures in recent months, concerned that a continual rise in prices could push the Federal Reserve to begin to scale down its ultra-accommodative policy stance earlier than anticipated.

Kansas City Federal Reserve President Esther George said on Wednesday that with the U.S. economy growing at a robust pace, it signals the “time has come to dial back the settings.” In addition, Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan said the central bank should announce its timeline to reduce its massive bondholding next month, with tapering to begin in October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 215.77 points, or 0.61%, to 35,480.44, the S&P 500 gained 8.15 points, or 0.18%, to 4,444.9 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 44.15 points, or 0.3%, to 14,743.94.

After the U.S. Senate passed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package on Tuesday, an additional $3.5 trillion budget plan full of new domestic programs was also approved by the legislative body but disagreements within the Democratic party threatened the size and scope of the spending.

Equipment maker Caterpillar Inc, up 3.46%, was the biggest boost to the Dow, while peer Deere & Co gained 2.04%. Also moving higher were construction materials supplier Vulcan Materials Co, up 2.95% and steelmaker Nucor Corp 2.95%, building on gains in the prior session on expectations of benefiting from infrastructure projects.

The materials and industrials were the best performing of the 11 major S&P sectors.

Technology stocks moved off earlier lows in the wake of a strong 10-year note auction, which sent yields lower after a five day streak of gains session amid optimism about a stronger economic reopening.

NortonLifeLock Inc gained 8.22% after the cybersecurity company agreed to buy London-listed rival Avast for up to $8.6 billion.

Coinbase Global Inc rose 2.79% after the cryptocurrency exchange beat market estimates for second-quarter profit, helped by a near 38% jump in trading volumes on a sequential basis.

Virgin Galactic slid 14.03% after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to “underweight” from “equal-weight”, pointing to a prolonged period of no flights.

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