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S&P 500, Nasdaq hit record highs on AI momentum, Dow edges up after weak retail sales

Published 06/18/2024, 06:28 AM
Updated 06/18/2024, 06:35 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2024.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Echo Wang

(Reuters) -The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs on Tuesday, buoyed by Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA)'s continued surge to new peaks, while the Dow ended barely higher in subdued pre-holiday trading following softer-than-expected U.S. retail sales data.

Nvidia overtook Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to become the world's most valuable company, ending the day with a market capitalization of $3.22 trillion.

Other chip stocks also extended their recent rallies, boosting the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index to a record high.

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Arm Holdings (NASDAQ:ARM) and Micron (NASDAQ:MU) advanced between 2.1% and 8.7%, with Micron hitting a record high.

"It's really the AI story," said Ty Draper, financial advisor at Beacon Capital Management in Franklin, Tennessee.

The Nasdaq notched a seventh record closing high in a row, as gains in many chip stocks offset losses in Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META).

Retail sales rose 0.1% in May, versus the 0.3% growth forecast by economists polled by Reuters, while another report showed surprisingly strong May industrial production and manufacturing output.

Following the news, markets slightly increased bets on two Federal Reserve interest rate cuts this year, LSEG's FedWatch showed, despite U.S. central bankers' most recent projections for just one easing.

Financial and technology led advances among the 11 S&P 500 sectors, up 0.64% and 0.61% respectively, while communication services and consumer discretionary were the biggest losers.

Fed officials' comments on Tuesday offered nothing compelling to trade on. New York Fed President John Williams said rates will gradually come down, while Richmond Fed's Thomas Barkin said he required more months of economic data before supporting a rate cut.

Some market observers noted nothing surprising emerged. "That's why the markets stay unchanged today," said Jim Awad, senior managing director at Clearstead Advisors LLC in New York.

U.S. markets will be closed on Wednesday for the Juneteenth holiday.

Hopes for multiple rate cuts this year, excitement for AI-related companies and robust earnings from other tech firms have bolstered equities in recent months, with gains concentrated in a few heavily weighted stocks.

Citigroup raised the year-end target for the S&P 500 to 5,600 points from 5,100.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.76 points, or 0.15%, to 38,834.86. The S&P 500 climbed 13.80 points, or 0.25%, to 5,487.03 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 5.21 points, or 0.03%, at 17,862.23.

Shares of education technology provider Chegg (NYSE:CHGG) rose 3.45% after announcing job cuts in a restructuring.

Homebuilder Lennar (NYSE:LEN) fell 4.98% after forecasting lower-than-expected third-quarter home deliveries.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2024.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.79-to-1 ratio on the NYSE, which had 259 new highs and 93 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.96 billion shares, compared with the 11.79 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

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