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Stock Market Today: S&P 500 Sets a Record After Wall Streets Breaks Out of Its Lull
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By Associated Press
Published 4 weeks ago on
March 27, 2024

U.S. stocks hit a new high, with S&P 500 leading the surge. Merck, Cintas, and Trump Media & Technology Group among the top performers. (AP/Peter Morgan)

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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose to a record Wednesday after breaking out of their three-day lull.

The S&P 500 climbed 44.91 points, or 0.9%, to 5,248.49. It was the first gain for the index since setting its last all-time high on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 477.75, or 1.2%, to 39,760.08, and the Nasdaq composite gained 83.82, or 0.5%, to 16,399.52. Both finished a bit shy of their own records.

Top Performers

Merck climbed 5% after federal regulators approved its treatment for adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare disease where blood vessels in the lungs thicken and narrow.

Cintas, a provider of work uniforms and office supplies, was another force pushing the S&P 500 upward. It jumped 8.2% after reporting stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group, meanwhile, continued their wild ride and rose another 14.2%. The company behind the money-losing Truth Social platform has zoomed well beyond what critics say is rational, as fans of former president Donald Trump keep pushing it higher.

Robinhood Markets climbed 3.7% after unveiling its first credit card, which is reserved for its subscription-paying Gold members, along with other new products.

Underperformers

On the losing end of Wall Street was Nvidia, which slumped to a second straight loss after screaming 91% higher for the year so far. It sank 2.5%, as some investors may have locked in profits before closing their books on the year’s first quarter. Nvidia has been one of the biggest winners of Wall Street’s frenzy around artificial intelligence.

GameStop tumbled 15% after delivering a profit for the latest quarter and a drop in revenue from the prior year. It’s the original meme stock, predating Trump Media by years, where its price has often moved more on the sentiment of smaller-pocketed investors than on traditional fundamentals like its profit and revenue.

Bond Market Update

In the bond market, Treasury yields slipped on a day with few economic reports to shake things up.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 4.19% from 4.23% late Tuesday.

This week’s highlight for the bond market may be arriving Friday, when the U.S. government releases the latest monthly update on spending by U.S. consumers. It will include the measure of inflation that the Federal Reserve prefers to use as it sets interest rates.

Both the U.S. bond and stock markets will be closed that day for Good Friday. That could cause some anticipatory trades to bunch up on Thursday. It will be the last trading day of the year’s first quarter, which could further roil things.

Market Outlook

The S&P 500 is on track for a fifth straight winning month and has been roaring higher since late October. The U.S. economy has remained remarkably resilient despite high interest rates meant to get inflation under control. Plus, the Federal Reserve looks set to start lowering interest rates this year because inflation has cooled from its peak.

But critics say a broader range of companies will need to deliver strong profit growth to justify the big moves in prices. Progress on bringing inflation down has also become bumpier recently, with reports this year coming in hotter than expected.

Still, the broad expectation among traders is for the Federal Reserve to begin cutting its main interest rate in June.

Stocks generally tend to do the best when more than half the world’s central banks are easing interest rates, according to Ned Davis Research. The world is not there yet, but several central banks have already begun cutting recently, like Switzerland’s, and it could happen later this year.

Global Market Update

In stock markets abroad, indexes were mixed across Europe and Asia.

Chinese stocks were some of the worst performers. Stocks tumbled 1.4% in Hong Kong and 1.3% in Shanghai.

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