Wall Street climbs as CPI data cools rate hike fears

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(Reuters) – The Dow Jones Industrial Average was on track for sixth day of gains and the S&P 500 edged past a key technical level after tepid inflation data cooled worries of faster interest rate hikes.

FILE PHOTO: People walk on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

A Labor Department report showed its consumer price index rose 0.2 percent, below the economists’ expectation of 0.3 percent, as rising costs for gasoline and rental accommodation were tempered by a moderation in healthcare prices.

“This data lends to the argument that the Fed can normalize patiently, but the flip side is that prolonged policy accommodation has yet failed to accelerate inflation,” Peter Cecchini, chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York, wrote in a note.

U.S. Treasury yields fell after the data. [US/]

Investors have been worried about a build up in price pressures and the pace of interest rate hikes, especially after a recent reading on inflation crossed the Federal Reserve’s 2-percent target.

Stocks have been riding an oil rally for the past two days following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a nuclear deal with Iran.

Oil prices were down slightly on Thursday, as investors took profits on a rally triggered by potential disruption to oil flows from major exporter Iran. [O/R]

Rising oil prices have helped the S&P 500 energy index outperform other major sectors in the quarter, with gains of 12.6 percent.

“The market wants to see a breakout in a particular sector. So far we’ve had energy.” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

“If the kind of gains we saw yesterday holds over, people will move into the market.”

At 11:16 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 189.72 points, or 0.77 percent, at 24,732.26.

The S&P 500 was up 18.01 points, or 0.67 percent, at 2,715.80 and breached its 50-day moving average, indicating short-term momentum. The Nasdaq Composite was up 51.67 points, or 0.70 percent, at 7,391.58.

The S&P technology index rose 0.9 percent, led by Apple, Facebook and Alphabet.

Qualcomm rose 2.6 percent after the chipmaker approved a new $10 billion share buyback program.

Nvidia, which is set to report earnings after the closing bell, was up 1.1 percent.

Wells Fargo rose 0.8 percent after the lender said it expects efficiency efforts to cut expenses by $2 billion annually in 2018 and 2019.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.39-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.69-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 30 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 113 new highs and 18 new lows.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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