Stocks finished higher on Friday—capping off a solid rally this week that saw markets rebound from more than seven consecutive weeks of losses, as recession fears continued to subside in light of positive economic data showing inflation moderated slightly last month.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.8%, nearly 600 points, while the S&P 500 gained 2.5% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite 3.3%.
Stocks jumped after solid economic data showed inflation moderated slightly: The Fed’s preferred inflation reading, the core personal consumption expenditures price index, rose 4.9% from a year ago in April, which was down from 5.2% in March.
Despite the positive data, inflation remains at historically high levels and experts warn that it could take some time to normalize: “Inflation is starting to slow but I expect rising prices to remain a problem for the U.S. economy for the rest of this year at least,” says Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank.
Most Fed officials are in favor of raising interest rates by 0.50% at each of the upcoming policy meetings in June and July, according to recently released minutes from the central bank’s latest meeting earlier in May.
Solid earnings reports in recent days, especially from retailers, helped lift markets higher this week and alleviate some recession fears, with shares of Ulta Beauty rising nearly 10% on Friday after strong quarterly results.
Along with the rebound in retail and consumer stocks, technology companies led the market gains: Dell Technologies bounced over 13% after investors cheered solid quarterly earnings, while shares of tech giants like Apple and Amazon both jumped over 3%.
After seven straight weeks of losses, stocks have finally rebounded, posting their best week since November 2020. The Dow rose over 5% since Monday, ending an eight-week long losing streak, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq each rose over 6% after falling for seven consecutive weeks in a row. Despite the recent relief rally in markets, stocks are still on pace for one of their worst years in recent history, as investors remain concerned about surging inflation and rising rates.
“Some of the recent panic about an imminent recession” was “clearly overstated,” says Vital Knowledge founder Adam Crisafulli. “Additional evidence of disinflation” has helped boost investor sentiment, while the S&P 500 “didn’t deserve to slump as dramatically as it did throughout April and the first half of May.”
“Earnings season wasn’t nearly as bad as Cisco, Target, and Walmart made it seem, as several companies wound up posting decent results/guidance,” which helped break the “cycle of retail negativity” from recent weeks, says Crisafulli. He points to companies like Dell, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Intuit, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, Splunk, Williams-Sonoma and Zoom as examples of companies with strong quarterly earnings.
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