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S&P 500, Nasdaq close slightly higher after soft services sector data, Fed comments

Published 04/03/2024, 06:25 AM
Updated 04/03/2024, 07:26 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Wall Street entrance to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York City, U.S., November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Chibuike Oguh

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed higher on Wednesday after data showing the U.S. services industry growth slowed further in March, but the advance was limited after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell indicated a cut in interest was still not in sight.

Most of the major S&P 500 sectors advanced, led by gains in energy, materials and communication services.

Powell reaffirmed in a speech on Wednesday that the Fed will stick to its wait-and-see approach as it considers when to start cutting rates given the continued strength of the U.S. economy and recent higher-than-expected inflation data.

Earlier on Wednesday, data from the Institute for Supply Management showed that non-manufacturing PMI declined for the second straight month to 51.4 in March, down from 52.6 in February, and weaker than analysts had expected, according to a Reuters poll.

A reading above 50 indicates growth in the services industry, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, and the data still indicates the U.S. economy continues to expand, though at a moderate pace.

"It all has to do with the Fed and market expectations for a rate cut being pushed off. I think that's really what is weighing on the market here and has been for at least a couple of days," said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist at Ingalls & Snyder in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 43.1 points, or 0.11%, to 39,127.14, the S&P 500 gained 5.68 points, or 0.11%, to 5,211.49 and the Nasdaq Composite added 37.01 points, or 0.23%, to 16,277.46.

The U.S. central bank had been expected to start cutting rates as early as June, but with recent robust economic data, many in the market have been questioning the timetable.

In separate comments to CNBC on Wednesday, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said rates should likely not be reduced until the fourth quarter of this year.

"There's this kind of yin and yang data scenario where you have some strong data that has some good-news-is-bad-news feel to it," said James St. Aubin, chief investment officer at Sierra Investment Management in California.

Among decliners, Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ:ULTA) dropped 15.3% after the beauty retailer gave downbeat forecast at an industry conference. Shares of e.l.f. Beauty (NYSE:ELF) and Coty (NYSE:COTY) also fell.

Also, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) shares dropped 8.2% after the chipmaker disclosed $7 billion in operating losses for its foundry business in 2023, steeper than the $5.2 billion reported the year before.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.03 billion shares, compared with the 11.76 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Wall Street entrance to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York City, U.S., November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.66-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.25-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 33 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 90 new highs and 124 new lows.

Latest comments

services sector still expanding just not as much, just like inflation.
A single positive news trump all the previous negative news
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