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Stock Market Today: S&P 500 closes at record as focus shifts to Fed decision

Published 03/18/2024, 07:43 PM
Updated 03/19/2024, 04:16 PM

Investing.com -- The S&P 500 closed at record highs Tuesday, led by energy stocks and weakness in Treasury yields as investors awaited the Federal Reserve decision due Wednesday. 

At 16:00 ET (4:13 GMT), the S&P 500 gained 0.6% to notch a closing record of 5,178.48.The NASDAQ Composite added 0.4%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 320 points, or 0.8%.

Fed meeting kicks off amid worries over hawkish message

The Fed's two-day meeting kicked off Tuesday, but with a unchanged decision on rates expected, investors wary that the Fed may signal fewer rate cuts this year following a recent bout of hotter-than-expected inflation data. 

Data released over the last couple of weeks has shown that U.S. inflation has remained above the central bank's 2% medium-term target.

An updated Summary of Economic Projections "could show a reduced expectation for rate cuts this year relative to three predicted in the December," Stifel said Tuesday. 

Despite fears about a less dovish Fed, Treasury yields slipped, with the yield on the 2-year Treasury down 4 basis points to 4.69%.  

On the economic front, housing activity continued to recover as housing starts and building permits surprised to the upside.  

Nvidia laps up Wall Street praise after new chips unveil; Supermicro falls on stock sale

Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) rose 1% as the chipmaker's new latest AI chip unveiled at its annual technology conference stoked a slew of positive remarks from Wall Street.

Nvidia unveiled different versions of its Blackwell AI chips including the B100, a B200, and a GB200, offering "an easy upgrade path, which in of itself could create significant demand for NVDA's next generation of parts," Wedbush said in a note. 

Spire Global (NYSE:SR) gave up some gains to trade 0.7% higher after the data and analytics company announced a collaboration with Nvidia for AI-driven weather prediction. 

Super Micro Computer Inc (NASDAQ:SMCI), meanwhile, fell 9% after the company announced that it would be selling another two million shares to finance inventory, expand its manufacturing capacity expansion and boost R&D investments.

Pfizer cuts stake in Haleon, International Flavors & Fragrances, Norstrom in deal fever.  

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) stock fell 0.4% after the drugs giant announced it has offloaded a roughly $3.9 billion stake in Haleon (LON:HLN), bringing down its holding in the British consumer healthcare firm to 22.6%.

International Flavors & Fragrances (NYSE:IFF) fell 1% after the specialty chemicals company said it would sell its pharma solutions business to French plant-based ingredients maker Roquette in a deal valued at $2.85 billion, as it looks to focus on higher-margin businesses.

Nordstrom Inc (NYSE:JWN) rose more than 9% following a Reuters report suggesting the department store is mulling a deal to go private and had tapped financial advisors to gauge interest among private equity funds. 

Energy stocks ride oil prices higher 

Energy stocks led the broader market, underpinned by oil prices rising to near to four-month highs ahead of fresh crude inventory data due later this week.  

The American Petroleum Institute is set to release its estimate of crude stocks later in the session, with the government petroleum report expected a day later. 

APA Corporation (NASDAQ:APA), Baker Hughes Co (NASDAQ:BKR) and Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE:DVN) were among the biggest sector gainers.

(Peter Nurse, Ambar Warrick contributed to this article.)

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