Wall St ends slightly higher after mixed Fed statements

NEW YORK – US stocks ended with modest gains on Nov 28 as investors parsed conflicting remarks from Federal Reserve officials, with upbeat consumer data providing some lift.

All three major US stock indexes lost momentum as the session progressed, but ended the range-bound session in the green.

“Even marathon runners have to pause, to take a breath and a drink of water. That doesn’t mean the race is over,” said Mr Oliver Pursche, senior vice-president at Wealthspire Advisers, in New York. “It’s been a very strong November, and investors have every reason to be optimistic into year-end.”

Market participants are now scrutinising remarks from monetary policymakers ahead of next month’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Fed Governor Christopher Waller said on Nov 28 he is “increasingly confident” that the current level of central bank’s policy rate is sufficiently restrictive and even hinted at the possibility of rate cuts in the months ahead should inflation continue to fall closer to the Fed’s 2 per cent target.

Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee touted progress in bringing inflation down at a pace not seen since the 1950s.

On the other hand, remarks from Fed Governor Michelle Bowman suggested another rake hike could be necessary to rein in inflation in a timely manner.

“The (Fed’s) mixed messaging is fairly normal and it occurs every time the Fed is near the end of a cycle, as certain members of the FOMC and certain Fed governors will feel more strongly than others that it’s time to stop (tightening),” Mr Pursche added.

Financial markets have priced in a near-certain 98.9 per cent likelihood that the FOMC will let the Fed funds target rate stand at 5.25 per cent to 5.5 per cent when it convenes next month, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

The crucial holiday shopping season has shifted into high gear, with survey data from the National Retail Federation suggesting consumers plan to spend about 5 per cent more this year.

That corresponds with the Conference Board’s consumer confidence data released early on Nov 28, which surprised to the upside due to improved near-term expectations.

Later in the week, the Commerce Department is due to release its second estimate for third-quarter Gross Domestic Product, and its broad-ranging Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report, which covers income, spending and crucially, inflation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83.51 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 35,416.98, the S&P 500 gained 4.46 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 4,554.89 and the Nasdaq Composite added 40.73 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 14,281.76.

Eight of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 closed in positive territory, with consumer discretionary shares posting the largest percentage gain. Healthcare stocks suffered the day’s biggest percentage loss.

Boeing advanced 1.4 per cent after RBC Capital Markets upgraded the stock to “outperform” from “sector perform.”

US-listed shares of Chinese e-commerce firm PDD Holdings surged 18.1 per cent after the company beat revenue estimates.

Affirm Holdings jumped 11.5 per cent, extending its Cyber Monday boost.

Chipmaker Micron Technology’s shares slid 1.8 per cent after the company said it expects higher first-quarter operating expenses than previously forecast.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.24-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.07-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 20 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 61 new highs and 103 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 10.03 billion shares, compared with the 10.41 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days. REUTERS

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