US stocks rose Friday, with the S&P 500 on track to end a three-week losing streak as investors digested Federal Reserve officials’ latest affirmations that they remained committed to bringing down inflation.
The S&P 500 rose by more than 2%, setting the index up for a back-to-back day of gains and its first weekly advance since late May. The Dow rose by more than 550 points, or 1.8%, as of about 10:43 a.m. ET, while the Nasdaq increased by more than 2.2%. The major averages held onto gains even after a closely watched print on consumer sentiment was revised down to a fresh record low, as Americans continued to grapple with elevated inflation.
The major US averages have traded choppily this week, but ultimately trended higher as investors considered the ongoing economic impact of the Fed’s moves to bring down rising prices. Fed Chair Jerome Powell made his most explicit acknowledgement yet this week that a recession was “certainly a possibility” — albeit not the “intended outcome” — as the central bank hiked interest rates further this year.
“Really, investors want the chair to understand that inflation is a significant problem and that dealing with it earlier is actually better for the long-term,” Diane Jaffee, group managing director and senior portfolio manager of TCW Group, told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday. “So I think investors are taking heart that the Fed is going to do whatever it takes.”
Still, Powell’s nod to current recession risks tracked with increased warning signals from a series of Wall Street firms that have recently raised their own forecasts for the probability of a near-term recession. Powell’s assertion that the Fed’s commitment to bringing down inflation was “unconditional” also suggested the central bank would not stop hiking rates at the first signs of an economic slowdown.
Defensive stocks seen as more resilient during downturns advanced this week, with the healthcare and utilities sectors among the biggest outperformers in the S&P 500. Cyclical sectors lagged, with the energy and materials sectors each heading for weekly losses. West Texas intermediate crude oil futures hovered near $106 per barrel and headed for a third straight weekly loss, as well as its first monthly loss since November.
Treasury yields increased across the curve to steady after renewed recession concerns also sent yields tumbling earlier this week. The benchmark 10-year yield rose back above 3.10%, after topping 3.31% at the start of the week.
On the move
FedEx (FDX) shares rose after the shipping giant delivered a full-year forecast that exceeded Wall Street’s estimates, while meeting fiscal fourth-quarter profit expectations. FedEx sees full-year adjusted earnings per share coming in between $22.50 and $24.50, compared to the $22.36 seen by analysts, according to Bloomberg. FedEx Chief Customer Officer Brie Carere noted on the company’s earnings call Thursday they were anticipating business-to-consumer shipping volumes to come under some pressure next year as consumer spending continues “tilting towards services from goods.”
Zendesk’s (ZEN) stock skyrocketed after the Wall Street Journal reported that the software company is nearing a deal with a group of buyout firms including Hellman & Friedman and Permira. The private-equity takeover could be firmed in the coming days if talks progress, according the the Wall Street Journal.
CarMax (KMX) shares advanced after the used vehicle retailer posted first-quarter results that topped expectations. Earnings per share of $1.56 on revenue of $9.31 billion were exceeded estimates for earnings of $1.51 per share and revenue of $8.99 billion, according to Bloomberg data. Total retail used vehicle unit sales were down 11% compared to last year, however, which CarMax said came as a result of “a lapping of stimulus benefits paid in the prior year period; widespread inflationary pressures, including challenges to vehicle affordability; and waning consumer confidence.”
Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.
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