Sunday, 3 March 2024

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S&P 500 finishes above 5,000 for first time

S&P 500 finishes above 5,000 for first time

More gains for U.S. stocks on Friday sent Wall Street to its latest record, milestone and winning week.

The S&P 500 rose 0.6% and finished a day above the 5,000 level for the first time. It’s the 10th record in less than a month for the index, which closed its 14th winning week in the last 15 to continue a romp that began around Halloween.

The Nasdaq composite jumped 1.2% to pull within 0.4% of its own all-time high, which was set in 2021. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was a laggard a day after setting its own latest record. It slipped 54 points, or 0.1%.

Milestones like the S&P 500 at 5,000 don’t carry much weight for a market that’s supposed to move on hard numbers like interest rates, profits and revenue. But they can juice up the animal spirits of a market that can also be prone to emotional moves.

Wall Street’s rally got going with hopes that cooling inflation would get the Federal Reserve to dial down the pressure by cutting interest rates. Lately, such cuts look to be coming later than hoped because reports keep showing a remarkably solid economy. But that strength has in turn raised expectations for profits from companies, supporting stocks.

Cloudflare was the latest company to soar after reporting stronger profit than analysts expected for its latest quarter. The cloud-services company jumped 19.5% after it said it signed both its largest new customer and its largest renewal ever, despite an overall economic environment that “remains challenging to predict.”

Big Tech stocks did most of the market’s heavy lifting, as they’ve been doing for more than a year, in part on mania around artificial-intelligence technology. Nvidia, Microsoft and Amazon were the three strongest forces lifting the S&P 500 after each rose by at least 1.6%.

They helped offset a 3.6% drop for PepsiCo, which reported weaker revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It said growth is slowing because customers are getting back to their snacking and other behaviors from before the pandemic.

Expedia tumbled 17.8% despite also reporting stronger profit than expected. The company gave forecasts for the first three months of 2024 that analysts said pointed to slower growth in bookings. The company also announced a new CEO, Ariane Gorin, will take over in May.

Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of “Grand Theft Auto” and other video games, sank 8.7% after it reported weaker profit than expected. It also cut its…

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