Market Snapshot: Dow up 300 points as stocks hit 3-month highs on optimistic inflation data


U.S. stocks traded at fresh three-month highs Thursday morning after another batch of July data suggested inflation may be easing.

How stocks are faring
  • S&P 500 SPX, +0.41% rose 19 points, or 0.5%, to 4,229.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.52% climbed 203 points, or 0.6%, to 33,512.
  • Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.05% added 25 points, or 0.2%, to 12,879.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.52% rose 535 points, or 1.63%, to 33310, the S&P 500 SPX, +0.41% increased 88 points, or 2.13%, to 4210, and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.05% gained 361 points, or 2.89%, to 12855. The S&P 500 is up 14.8% from its 2022 closing low hit in mid-June but remains down 11.7% for the year to date.

What’s driving markets

Stocks surged to their highest levels since early May after the July producer-price index fell 0.5%, compared with expectations for a 0.2% rise, although the three main U.S. stock benchmarks have pared their gains somewhat heading into afternoon trading in New York.

See: U.S. producer price inflation moderates in July

Thursday’s optimistic inflation report followed a similarly cooler-than-expected reading on U.S. consumer-price growth released a day earlier. That data also helped send stocks soaring, with the Nasdaq exiting bear-market territory and the Dow exiting correction territory.

Hopes that inflation has peaked helped encourage investors to pile back into equities based on the view that slowing inflation could allow the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates less aggressively.

However, some market analysts are urging caution as rising housing costs could keep core inflation elevated, even as a drop in oil prices and other commodities has helped to reduce inflation expectations.

See: Don’t be fooled by a drop in U.S. headline inflation. Markets will be attuned to another figure on Wednesday

“Our view is that this is a rally that really deserves a lot of scrutiny because when we think about what has happened since the mid-June low, the market outlook hasn’t really changed,” said Jake Jolly, senior investment strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management.

“Historically, the Fed delivers more hikes than the market anticipates. And this is clearly a hiking cycle that is far from over,” Jolly said.

Also supporting the upbeat tone was a well-received earnings report from Walt Disney DIS, +6.24%, which helped the media group’s shares rise 8%.

Overall, the second quarter earnings season has helped underpin the market. With companies representing 91% of S&P 500 market capitalization having reported, sales growth has been 15.1% and earnings growth 7.9% – surprising by plus 3.5% and plus 3.6%, according to Evercore ISI.

However, the latest surge in stocks may have left the market overextended and vulnerable to a pullback. The CBOE Vix index VIX, +2.58%, an options-based gauge of expected S&P 500 volatility, has dipped below its long-run average of 20, suggesting traders may be getting a tad complacent.

In addition, the S&P 500’s 14-day relative strength index, a closely watched momentum gauge, is around 74, where any reading above 70 is considered overbought territory. The RSI for market behemoth Apple AAPL, +0.01% is 76, the highest since December.

In other economic data news, initial jobless benefit claims rose 14,000 to 262,000 in the week ended Aug. 6, as the weekly data continued to show rising numbers of Americans applying for jobless benefits — even as the unemployment rate inched lower last month to 3.5%.

See: U.S. jobless claims move higher, a ‘cool breeze’ over hot labor market

Companies in focus
How are other assets faring
  • Oil was seeing modest gains, with West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery up $1.42, or 1.5%, to $93.32 a barrel.
  • The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, 2.840% fell 1.2 basis points to 2.777%.
  • The ICE Dollar index DXY, -0.23% fell 0.4% as traders priced in a less aggressive Fed. But a softer buck did not help gold GC00, -0.43%, which was marginally lower.
  • Bitcoin BTCUSD, +2.01% advanced 2.3% to $24,410.
  • Asia markets mostly got a lift from Wall Street’s overnight surge with Hong Kong’s Hang Sang HSI, +2.40% adding 2.2%, though Japan missed out because of the Mountain Day holiday. In Europe the Stoxx 600 SXXP, +0.06% rose less than 0.1%.

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