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By Damian J. Troise AP Business Writer
New York (AP) — Stocks are drifting in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday but remain on track for their best monthly gain in more than a year. online news
The S&P 500 fell 0.3%, but remains up more than 8% in November. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 230 points, or 0.7%, to 35,662 as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern. The Nasdaq fell 0.8%.
Treasury yields gained ground. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, rose to 4.32% from 4.26% late Wednesday.
The market has been marching steadily higher in recent weeks as investors hope the Federal Reserve is finally done raising interest rates, which fight inflation by slowing the economy. Those hopes got more support with a report that the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation cooled last month.
November’s rally has also been driven largely by the technology sector, where several companies with high values tend to disproportionately impact the market. Microsoft is up 11.5% and Nvidia rose 15% for the month. Also, Treasury yields have generally been falling and easing pressure on stocks. High yields tend to make expensive stocks look less attractive to investors.
“The rally has been dramatic in its move,” said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist for LPL Financial.
The recent softness has essentially been the market’s way of dealing with an overbought scenario, she said, but it hardly suggests a deep sell-off ahead.
“What you want to see is that next leg up as we close the year,” she said. “November is a strong month for the market, but so is December.”
Thursday’s report from the Commerce Department said prices were unchanged from September to October, down from a 0.4% rise the previous month. Compared with a year ago, consumer prices rose 3% in October, below the 3.4% annual rate in September. That was the lowest year-over-year inflation rate in more than 2 1/2 years.
The Fed’s aggressive rate hike policy pushed its benchmark interest rate from near zero in 2022 to its highest level in two decades by the middle of 2023. The goal has been to tame inflation back to the Fed’s target rate of 2%.
Wall Street is betting that the central bank will continue to hold rates steady at its December meeting and into early 2024, when it could start considering cutting interest rates. Fed officials have hinted at those possibilities, while also saying any future moves will be based on economic data.
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The latest data on economic growth and consumer confidence have also raised hopes that the Fed will achieve its sought-after “soft landing,” which involves cooling the inflation without throwing the economy into a recession. Meanwhile, the latest round of surprisingly encouraging corporate earnings gave investors more confidence that businesses and the economy can keep humming along.
Software company Salesforce jumped 6.1% after giving investors a strong profit forecast. Cloud-computing company Snowflake rose 4.6% after also giving Wall Street an encouraging financial forecast.
On the losing end, data storage company Pure Storage fell 13% after giving investors a disappointing revenue outlook.
Also Thursday, the Labor Department said slightly more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, but the overall number of people in the U.S. collecting benefits rose to its highest level in two years. The report shows that the labor market remains strong, but is showing signs of softening.
Oil prices have also been falling, as have gasoline prices in the U.S., relieving pressure on consumers. The price of U.S. crude oil fell 1.7% Thursday, despite the latest extension of OPEC’s production cuts.
In Europe, the latest data showed that inflation dropped more than expected to 2.4% in November, the lowest in more than two years. The new figure is close to the European Central Bank’s inflation target of 2% following a rapid series of interest rate hikes dating to summer 2022.
Stocks in Asia and Europe were mostly higher.
AP Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber and AP Business Writers Matt Ott and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this report.
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