Another choppy day of trading on Wall Street ended with modest gains for stocks on Thursday and the benchmark S&P 500 index barely returned to green for the week.
The S&P 500 rose 0.2% after hovering between small gains and losses for much of the day. It is now up 0.1% for the week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average managed a 0.1% gain, while the Nasdaq rose 0.2% as technology companies gained ground.
Small company stocks outperformed the broader market, pushing the Russell 2000 Index up 0.7%.
The choppy trade in stocks follows a four-week winning streak for the S&P 500. Investors remain concerned about stubbornly high inflation and its impact on consumers and businesses. Financial results from major retailers and economic updates throughout the week showed that the economy remains under inflationary pressure, but has several pockets of resilience.
“The market is looking for direction and it seems people are caught between slowing economic growth and slowing inflation,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance.
The S&P 500 rose 9.70 points to 4,283.74, while the Dow Jones added 18.72 points to 33,999.04. The Nasdaq gained 27.22 points to 12,965.34 and the Russell 2000 added 13.41 points to 2,000.73.
Tech companies have seen some of the biggest gains. Cisco Systems rose 5.8% after posting strong financial results.
Energy stocks also rose as US crude oil prices rose 2.7%. Devon Energy rose 5.9%.
Big store Kohls fell 7.7% after releasing a disappointing financial forecast.
Bond yields fell. The 10-year Treasury yield, which affects mortgage ratesslipped to 2.87% from 2.90% on Wednesday evening.
Bed bath and beyond fell 19.6% after investor Ryan Cohen offered to sell his entire stake in the struggling retailer.
Slightly fewer Americans applied unemployment benefits last week, according to the Labor Department, as the labor market continues to emerge as one of the strongest segments of the US economy. The bright job market update follows an encouraging report on Wednesday that showed retail sales remain strong despite the highest inflation in four decades.
Investors are watching the Federal Reserve closely for any reaction to changes in inflation or the economy. The central bank has raised interest rates in an effort to slow the economy and calm inflation, but Wall Street fears it may be braking too hard and sliding into a recession instead.
Any sign of inflation picking up or slowing has given Wall Street hope that the Fed may consider easing rate hikes. It raised its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a point for the second consecutive time at its July meeting and is expected to raise the rate by half a percentage point at its next meeting.
The minutes Last month’s meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers showed policymakers expected the economy to expand in the second half of 2022, although many suggested growth would weaken as higher rates s would install. The Fed intends to keep raising rates enough to slow the economy.
Wall Street continues to monitor potential trade issues between the United States and China after the US government says so hold trade talks with Taiwan in a show of support for the island democracy that China claims as its own territory, prompting Beijing to warn that it will take action if necessary to “safeguard its sovereignty”.
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