By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks closed higher on Wednesday as rising crude prices boosted energy shares and a swath of positive U.S. data suggested inflation has crested and the economic recovery remains robust, boosting investor sentiment.
All three major U.S. stock indexes gathered strength as the session progressed, with economically sensitive cyclicals, smallcaps and transportation stocks leading the charge.
While value stocks initially held the advantage, the risk-on sentiment gained momentum through the afternoon, broadening to include growth stocks.
“Today is the first time in a while when both growth and value stocks are doing pretty well. It’s been either or for much of the last few weeks and today it’s both,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive of Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. “Breadth matters, and that’s something investors like to see.”
A host of economic data showed hints of waning inflation and an ongoing return to economic normalcy, even as supply constraints, complicated by hurricane Ida, hindered factory output.
Import prices posted their first monthly decline since October 2020, in the latest sign that the wave of price spikes has crested, further supporting the Federal Reserve’s position that current inflationary pressures are transitory.
Next week, the Federal Open Markets Committee’s two-day monetary policy meeting will be closely parsed for signals as to when the central bank will begin to taper its asset purchases.
The graphic below shows major indicators against the Fed’s average annual 2% inflation target.
(Graphic: Inflation, https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/egpbkymydvq/inflation.png)
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 236.82 points, or 0.68%, to 34,814.39; the S&P 500 gained 37.65 points, or 0.85%, at 4,480.7; and the Nasdaq Composite added 123.77 points, or 0.82%, at 15,161.53.
Among the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but utilities gained ground. Energy was by far the biggest gainer, benefiting from a jump in crude prices driven by a drawdown in U.S. stocks.
U.S.-listed Chinese stocks extended recent losses, as weak retail sales data pointed to a possible economic slowdown in the mainland, while Beijing’s regulatory overhaul of Macau’s casino industry further dampened appetite for Chinese stocks.
This follows a series of regulatory moves by China against major technology firms, which has wiped out billions in market value this year.
“It would be tough to buy any Chinese stocks,” Carlson said. “From an investor standpoint you don’t know what sector is next.”
“I don’t think the situation is going to get better any time soon and it’s probably going to spread,” he added.
U.S.-based casino operators Las Vegas Sands Corp, Wynn Resorts Ltd and MGM Resorts International slid between 1.7% and 6.3%.
Apple Inc snapped a decline over recent sessions following an adverse court ruling on its business practices, and a lukewarm response to its event on Tuesday where it unveiled updates to its iPhone and other gadgets. Its shares gained 0.6%.
Lending platform GreenSky Inc shot up 53.2% after Goldman Sachs Group Inc said it would buy the company in an all-stock deal valued at $2.24 billion.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.15-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.70-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted seven new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 55 new highs and 106 new lows.
(Reporting by Stephen Culp; additional reporting by Ambar Warrick and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang)