Wall Street extends rally, but sets course for weekly loss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street advanced in a broad rally at the conclusion of a whipsaw week of buying and selling as signs of economic revival clashed with mounting inflation jitters.

FILE PHOTO: People are seen on Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

All three major U.S. indexes built on Thursday’s gains, in which the S&P 500 saw its biggest one-day percentage bump in over a month.

Still, the indexes are on course for their worst weeks since late February due to concerns over surging prices, despite assurances from the U.S. Federal Reserve that near-term spikes will be temporary.

“The Fed is correct and those (inflation) fears are exaggerated,” said Oliver Pursche, senior vice president at Wealthspire Advisors, in New York. “A lot of prices came down at the height of the pandemic due to dropping demand and now they’re back to pre-pandemic levels. I would very much call that transitory.”

Economic data showed retail sales growth stalling and consumer sentiment dipping as prices remain on an upward trajectory, suggesting that while the demand boom might be taking a breather, inflation has not.

“Today’s retail report shows there’s still work to be done,” Pursche added. “But fundamentally and structurally speaking, the economy continues to improve and that bodes well for stocks.

But in an indication that economic activity will soon return to normal, revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.

For an interactive graphic on worldwide vaccination progress, click here here.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 365.02 points, or 1.07%, to 34,386.47, the S&P 500 gained 60.01 points, or 1.46%, to 4,172.51 and the Nasdaq Composite added 278.15 points, or 2.12%, to 13,403.13.

All 11 major S&P sectors were green, with energy, boosted by rebounding crudes prices, enjoying the largest percentage gain. [O/R]

Chips gave a lift to the technology sector , extending gains in the wake of a Reuters report that lawmakers in Washington are close to unveiling a $52 billion dollar proposal to aid U.S. microchip production.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index was last up 3.3%.

First-quarter earnings season is nearing its final curtain, with 457 constituents of the S&P 500 having posted results. Of those, 87% have beaten consensus estimates, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Major retailers Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Lowe’s and others are on the docket next week.

Analysts now see annual S&P earnings growth of 50.6%, in aggregate, for the Jan-March period, more than triple the rate forecast at the beginning of the quarter, per Refinitiv.

Walt Disney Co shares were driven down 2.3% after the subscriber additions to its streaming service fell short of expectations.

Airbnb Inc reported a 52% jump in bookings as vaccinations spark rising vacation rental demand, driving its stock up 2.9%.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 4.44-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 4.04-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 69 new highs and 48 new lows.

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