Stocks today: Wall Street hovers around its records after mixed economic data

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks traded near record highs Thursday following mixed data on the economy.

The S&P 500 was 0.2% lower in midday trade after swinging between earlier gains and losses. As of 11:10 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 68 points, or 0.2%, and the Nasdaq composite was almost flat.

Bond markets were more decisive, with Treasury yields rising after the report showed inflation was a touch flat. More heat on a wholesale level last month than economists had expected. This is a recent one data string On that day inflammation It was Worse than forecastIt keeps the door closed on previous beliefs Central Reserve Interest rates may be cut this month.

But other reports released in the morning showed some softness in the economy, reviving hopes that the long-term trend for inflation will be downward.

Traders still largely expect the Fed to begin cutting rates in June, according to CME Group data. The central bank's key rate is at its highest level since 2001 in hopes of curbing inflation, and cuts will ease pressure on the economy and financial system.

The question hanging over Wall Street is whether recent signals of stubborn inflation will mean more delays in forecasts for eventual rate cuts. That, in turn, could damage U.S. stocks' big run since late October, rising in 16 of the past 19 weeks.

Traders pushed back a small portion of their bets on the first cut in interest rates from June to July.

„So far, the market has shrugged off concerns about stubborn inflation and a cautious Fed,” said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investment at E-Trade from Morgan Stanley.

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But the mix of data suggests the Federal Reserve is forecasting only two rate cuts this year, down from three, says Brian Jacobson, chief economist at Annex Wealth Management.

Fed officials, following their latest policy meeting, will give their latest projections for where they see interest rates going this year and ahead on Wednesday.

Among the data they examine is a report Thursday Shoppers spent less at U.S. retailers last month than economists had expected. Such data drags on the overall economy, but may also remove some upward pressure on inflation.

The government said retail sales in January were weaker than previously thought. Earlier, strong spending by American households was one of the factors keeping the economy out of recession despite high interest rates.

A separate report said fewer U.S. workers applied Unemployment benefits Last week was better than expected. This is good news for workers in general. But greater strength in the labor market, which remains remarkably resilient, could add upward pressure on inflation.

The combination of data sent the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 4.28% from 4.19% late Wednesday. The two-year yield, which most closely tracks expectations for the Fed, rose to 4.68% from 4.63%.

On Wall Street, Dollar General is swinging sharply despite reporting stronger-than-expected profit and revenue in the latest quarter. Its stock fell 4.6% after rising more than 6% in the morning.

Dollar General executives said inflation is pushing customers away from non-essentials and name brands to trade in aisles. It eliminates self-checkout from more than 300 stores that experience heavy loss of inventory.

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A day earlier, rival Dollar Tree slumped as it reported weaker-than-expected results and said it would close hundreds of its Family Dollar stores.

Dick's Sporting Goods rose 13.4% in the latest quarter after posting stronger-than-expected profit and increasing its dividend.

Robinhood Markets gained 6.8% last month due to strong growth in trading activity among its clients as stock and crypto prices neared records.

U.S. steel fell 2.2% on the presidency Joe Biden comes out against Planned sale of the company For Japan's Nippon Steel.

Nippon Steel In December, it announced plans to buy the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker for $14.1 billion in cash, raising concerns about what the deal could mean for unionized workers, supply chains and U.S. national security.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev fell 5.4% in the U.S. after Altria said it would sell part of its stake in the Budweiser maker. Altria is offering 35 million of its 197 million ABI shares.

Homebuilder Lennar fell 4.9% despite reporting stronger-than-expected growth in profit as its revenue fell short of analysts' forecasts.

Abroad, indices across Europe and Asia were mixed.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3% as speculation mounted that the Bank of Japan may soon end its policy of keeping interest rates below zero.

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AP business writers Yuri Kageyama and Matt Ott contributed.

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