Stock market today: Wall Street takes a breather after best trading month of the year

Dec 1, 2023, 12:03 AM

Wall Street is mixed early Friday after closing out the best month of the year.

Futures for the S&P 500 edged 0.2% lower before the bell while the Dow Jones Industrial Average were essentially flat.

Markets marched steadily higher through much of November as investors grew hopeful that the Federal Reserve is finally done raising interest rates in its fight to control inflation. Recent economic data supports that view.

On Thursday, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation showed a cooling last month and markets rocketed higher in the last hour or so of trading.

The Fed’s aggressive rate hike policy pushed its benchmark interest rate from near zero in 2022 to its highest level in two decades by the middle of 2023. The goal has been to tame inflation back to the Fed’s target rate of 2%.

Wall Street is betting that the central bank will continue to hold rates steady at its December meeting and into early 2024, when it might even entertain interest rate cuts.

The latest data on economic growth and consumer confidence have also suggested that the Fed will be able to pull of a “soft landing” for the U.S. economy, which involves slowing the economy without throwing it into recession.

In early trading Friday, Pfizer fell 3.7% after the drugmaker announced that a new, twice-daily oral weight loss drug would not advance to phase 3 studies due to side effects. Pfizer said the study met its primary endpoint showing significant reductions in body weight, the company said it would shift its focus to a once-daily formulation of the drug.

Tesla shares fell 2.3% one day after the electric car maker delivered about a dozen of its long-delayed Cybertrucks.

In Europe at midday, Germany’s DAX and the CAC 40 in Paris each added 0.7% while Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.6%.

In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.2% to 16,838.89, hovering around a one-year low, while the Shanghai Composite index edged up 0.1% to 3,031.64.

A private sector survey released Friday showed Chinese manufacturing activity unexpectedly expanded in November, marking the fastest growth in three months. That report by Caixin contradicted an official one released the day before that showed weak factory demand.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index edged 17 points lower to 33,431.51 after a similar private-sector survey showed Japan’s manufacturing contracting in November at the fastest pace in nine months.

South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.2% to 2,505.01. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 sank 0.2% to 7,073.20. India’s Sensex gained 0.8% and Bangkok’s SET was 0.1% lower.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, held steady at 4.34% early Friday.

U.S. benchmark crude oil fell 10 cents at $75.86 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.90 on Thursday to $75.96 a barrel.

Brent crude, the international standard, shed 15 cents to $80.71 a barrel.

In currency dealings, the dollar inched up to 148.25 Japanese yen from 148.20 yen. The euro fell to $1.0876 from $1.0890.

Thursday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.5%. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.2%. All indexes posted solid gains for the month.

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Stock market today: Wall Street takes a breather after best trading month of the year