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Stock Market Today: Wall Street Ticks Higher as S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Head for More Records
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By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
May 20, 2024

US stock indexes edge higher, with S&P 500 and Nasdaq poised for record highs; Norwegian Cruise Line leads market with 6.1% surge. (AP File)

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NEW YORK — Most U.S. stock indexes are ticking higher on Monday and adding to their latest winning week.

The S&P 500 was up 0.4% in morning trading and on track to surpass its record set last week. The Nasdaq composite was 0.7% higher and likewise on pace for a record, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was trailing the market and down 4 points, or less than 0.1%, after closing above the 40,000 level for the first time on Friday.

Norwegian Cruise Line was helping to lead the market and steamed 6.1% higher after giving some financial forecasts for the year that topped analysts’ expectations. It said demand is growing for cruises, and some of its competitors gained in its wake. Carnival rose 4.6%, and Royal Caribbean Group gained 4.5%.

Market Influences

All three of the big U.S. stock indexes set records last week in large part because of revived hopes that the Federal Reserve will be able to cut interest rates this year as inflation hopefully cools. More reports showing big U.S. companies are earning fatter profits than expected also boosted stock prices.

This upcoming week has few top-tier economic reports, like last week’s headliner that showed inflation may finally be heading back in the right direction following a discouraging start to the year. But some potentially market-moving reports on corporate profits are on the calendar.

Upcoming Reports

Atop them all is Nvidia, whose rocket ride amid a frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology has been a major reason for the S&P 500’s gains over the last year. It will report its latest quarterly results on Wednesday, and expectations are high. Analysts are forecasting its revenue more than tripled to nearly $24.59 billion from a year earlier.

Its stock was up 2.6% to bring its gain for the year so far above 91%.

Several retailers are also on the schedule, including Lowe’s on Tuesday, Target on Wednesday and Ross Stores on Thursday. They could offer more details on how well spending by U.S. households is holding up. Pressure has been rising on them amid still-high inflation, even if it’s not as bad as before, and cracks seem to be most visible among the lowest-income customers.

Target was down 1.3% after it said Monday it would cut prices on thousands of everyday essentials, like milk and diapers, in an acknowledgment of how customers are looking for relief from higher prices.

Oil and Bond Market

In the oil market, crude prices were mixed after erasing gains they made earlier in the morning, following the death of Iran’s president in a helicopter crash. A barrel of benchmark U.S. crude was up 0.2% at $79.76. Brent crude, the international standard, slipped 0.2% to $83.83 per barrel.

In the bond market, yields were mostly steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.43% from 4.42% late Friday. The two-year yield, which more closely tracks expectations for Fed action, was holding steady at 4.83%.

Federal Reserve Expectations

The Fed on Wednesday will release the minutes from its latest meeting, where it again held its main interest rate at the highest level in more than two decades. The hope is that the Fed can manage the delicate balancing act of grinding down the economy through high interest rates by just enough to get inflation under control but not so much that it causes a painful recession.

Traders are putting an 89% probability on the Fed cutting its main interest rate at least once this year, according to data from CME Group.

In stock markets abroad, indexes were modestly higher across much of Asia and Europe.

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