NATIONAL NEWS

Stock market today: Wall Street rises to more records to close out its latest winning month

Mar 28, 2024, 3:22 PM | Updated: 3:26 pm

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FILE - People walk by the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

(AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street set more records Thursday as U.S. stocks coasted to the close of their latest winning month and quarter.

The S&P 500 added 5.86 points, or 0.1%, to its all-time high set a day before and closed at 5,254.35. That sent its gain for the year’s first three months to a fat 10.2%. The only quarter that’s been better in the last two years was the one that came just before.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up by 47.29 points, or 0.1%, to 39,807.37 and likewise set a record. The Nasdaq composite dipped 20.06, or 0.1%, to 16,379.46. It’s just shy of its own all-time high.

The stock market has been on a nearly unstoppable run since late October, and the S&P 500 just capped its fifth straight winning month. It’s leaped as the U.S. economy has remained remarkably solid despite high interest rates meant to get inflation under control.

And with inflation hopefully still cooling from its peak, the Federal Reserve has indicated it will likely cut interest rates several times later this year.

Thursday was the last day of trading for both the U.S. stock and bond markets this month and quarter. Financial markets will be closed on Friday for Good Friday.

Most stocks scrambled higher during the quarter, led by a pocket of companies riding Wall Street’s continued frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology. Nvidia, whose chips are powering much of the AI rush, surged 82.5%.

The only stock in the S&P 500 to do better was Super Micro Computer, which just joined the index recently because it’s also been caught up in AI mania. The company, which sells server and storage systems used in AI and other computing, saw its stock soar a staggering 255.3%.

They more than made up for stumbles during the quarter by companies like Tesla and Boeing. Tesla fell 29.3% to continue its volatile run, having more than doubled last year. Boeing, meanwhile, sank 26% as worries mounted about its safety and manufacturing quality.

 

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In the bond market, Treasury yields inched higher Thursday following some mixed reports on the economy.

One said the U.S. economy’s growth in the final three months of last year was stronger than earlier estimated. Another said fewer U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, the latest indication of a solid job market.

Other reports showed that sentiment among U.S. consumers is stronger than economists expected, but manufacturing in the Chicago region is contracting by more than forecast.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.20% from 4.19% late Wednesday. The yield on the two-year Treasury, which more closely tracks expectations for the Fed, rose to 4.62% from 4.57%.

The hope on Wall Street is still that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting its main interest rate in June. Lower interest rates ease the pressure on the economy, while boosting prices for investments. But progress on bringing inflation down has become bumpier recently, with reports this year coming in hotter than expected.

A top official at the Federal Reserve, Gov. Christopher Waller, said in a speech late Wednesday that “there is no rush to cut the policy rate” given such data.

“Indeed, it tells me that it is prudent to hold this rate at its current restrictive stance perhaps for longer than previously thought to help keep inflation on a sustainable trajectory toward 2%,” Waller said.

Besides interest rates staying higher for longer, critics say other threats could also derail the stock market’s dash higher. Chief among them is that stock prices have climbed faster than corporate profits, leaving them looking expensive by some measures. Companies will need to deliver solid growth in profits to justify the moves.

On Wall Street, RH jumped 17.3% even though the retailer of home furnishings reported weaker profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It also indicated demand is trending upward, and it gave a revenue forecast for the upcoming year that was slightly above analysts’ expectations.

Analysts said investors are ready to pounce on signs of a recovery in the housing market, with interest and mortgage rates expected to come down later this year.

Chemours fell 9.1% despite reporting better results for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It gave a forecast for earnings before taxes and other items in the current quarter that was below analysts’ expectations. The company also said its board has completed its internal reviews of accounting issues and found some weaknesses in its internal control over financial reporting.

Also on the losing end was Trump Media & Technology Group. The company behind former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social fell 6.4% after soaring more than 14% in each of the past two days. Its stock has shot well beyond what critics say is reasonable for the money-losing company, driven by fans of Trump and investors hoping to cash in on the mania.

In stock markets abroad, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 slumped 1.5% amid speculation about whether Japanese officials will make moves to support the value of the Japanese yen.

Movements were more modest across much of the rest of Asia and Europe.


AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.

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Stock market today: Wall Street rises to more records to close out its latest winning month