Wall Street gains slightly, although trading remains choppy

Stocks edged higher, although trading remained choppy on Wall Street on Wednesday after a report showed inflation remained very high.

The indices were little changed after the release of the minutes of the last Federal Reserve interest rate policy meeting. Minutes show Fed officials underscored their commitment to tackling “unacceptably high” inflation before announcing another sharp hike in interest rates and signaling bigger rate hikes to come.

The S&P 500 was up 0.4% at 2:29 p.m. EST. The index was roughly evenly split between winners and losers. Different sectors have the market alternated between leading and lagging throughout the day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 162 points, or 0.6%, to 29,404, and the Nasdaq rose 0.5%.

Treasury yields, which have driven much of Wall Street’s recent trading, eased slightly. The 10-year Treasury yield, which affects mortgage rates, fell to 3.90% from 3.95% on Tuesday evening. It was at 3.92% before the release of the Fed meeting minutes. The 2-year Treasury yield remained stable at 4.31%.

Banks and technology stocks made solid gains. Bank of America rose 1.4% and Intuit 2.6%.

Consumer goods companies also made strong progress. PepsiCo rose 4.3% after raising its profit forecast for the year following encouraging quarterly financial results.

Cruise operators were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Carnival rose 9.7%, Norwegian Cruise Line gained 10.2% and Royal Caribbean climbed 10.3%.

Markets have been volatile all week as investors await the latest round of corporate earnings reports and further reports on inflation and retail sales. The benchmark S&P 500 just suffered five straight losses and is near its lowest point in nearly two years.

A government report showed inflation at the wholesale level eased last month, although it was somewhat worse than economists had expected. A more closely watched component of the inflation data matched economists’ forecasts.

Inflation updates are being watched closely by investors who fear that stubbornly high prices on everything from food to clothing could lead to a recession. These worries have been compounded by central banks around the world raising interest rates to make borrowing more expensive and slow economic growth.

The Federal Reserve has been particularly aggressive and its strategy carries the risk of stalling an already slowing economy and triggering a recession.

In minutes of the September 20-21 central bank meeting, Fed policymakers said “labour market easing” – likely including higher unemployment – would be needed to rein in inflationary pressures. from the country. They noted that hiring remains “robust,” which itself is fueling high inflation as wages rise sharply.

A closely watched consumer price report is due Thursday and retail sales data for September is due Friday. Both reports could help give Wall Street a clearer picture of where prices remain hottest and how consumers are reacting.

Corporate earnings season begins in earnest this week. Domino’s Pizza and Walgreens will release their results on Thursday. Big banks, including Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, will release their results on Friday.

The pound weakened against the US dollar after Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey confirmed that the bank would not extend beyond Friday an emergency debt-buying plan introduced the last month to stabilize the financial markets.

Markets in Europe were mostly down.

The US dollar strengthened against other currencies amid heightened recession fears. The Japanese yen fell to a 24-year low against the US dollar at 146 yen, raising expectations of intervention to support the yen following such a move in September.

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