UNITED STATES NEWS

Stocks suggest inflation could slow as year comes to a close

Dec 30, 2023, 6:00 PM

Stocks were drifting on the final day of trading in 2023. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)...

Stocks were drifting on the final day of trading in 2023. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting on the final day of trading for 2023 in what has been a surprisingly strong year of gains on Wall Street.

Yet the so-called Magnificent 7 companies — Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, Nvidia, Meta Platforms and Tesla — accounted for about two-thirds of the gains in the S&P 500 this year, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Nvidia leads the group with a gain of about 240%.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.1% Friday and is sitting just below the all-time high it set in January of 2022. It is up 24.6% for the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3 points, or less than 0.1%, to 37,707, a day after hitting another record. It is up more than 13% for the year.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.1% as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern and is up 44% for the year thanks largely to the movement of those marquee companies.

Shares in European markets edged higher on Friday after a year of gains. Benchmark indexes in France and Germany made double-digit advances, while Britain’s has climbed just under 4%.

Asia markets had a mixed session on the last trading day of the year for most markets. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gave up 0.2% to 33,464.17. It gained 27% in 2023, its best year in a decade as the Japanese central bank inched toward ending its longstanding ultra-lax monetary policy after inflation finally exceeded its target of about 2%.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong ended flat, while the Shanghai Composite index gained 0.7%. The Shanghai index lost about 3% this year and the Hang Seng fell nearly 14%. Weakness in the property sector and in global demand for China’s exports, as well as high debt levels and wavering consumer confidence have weighed on the country’s economy and the stock market.

Wall Street is coming off a quiet day Thursday. All the major indexes are on track for weekly gains, with the S&P 500 on track for a rare ninth consecutive week of gains.

Investors in the U.S. came into the year expecting inflation to ease further as the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates higher. The trade-off would be a weaker economy and possibly a recession. But while inflation has come down to around 3%, the economy has chugged along thanks to solid consumer spending and a healthy job market.

The stock market is now betting the Fed can achieve a “soft landing,” where the economy slows just enough to snuff out high inflation, but not so much that it falls into a recession. As a result, investors now expect the Fed to begin cutting rates as early as March.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 3.88% Friday from 3.85% late Thursday. It surpassed 5.00% in October, but has been generally falling since then, easing the pressure on stocks.

U.S. benchmark crude oil rose 47 cents at $72.26 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude advanced 46 cents to $77.61 per barrel.

 

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Stocks suggest inflation could slow as year comes to a close