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Nasdaq, gold scale all-time highs amid cautious Fed comments

Published 2024/05/20, 02:53
Updated 2024/05/20, 22:37
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk on an overpass past office towers in the Lujiazui financial district of Shanghai, China October 17, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The Nasdaq closed at a record high on Monday and gold jumped to an all-time high as investors weighed hawkish statements from the Federal Reserve against evidence of cooling U.S. inflation.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq led the three major U.S. stock indexes with a boost from chips, as Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) Corp advanced ahead of its closely watched earnings report, expected on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 finished the session with a modest gain, while the blue-chip Dow dipped below 40,000 after closing on Friday above that level for the first time.

"The Nasdaq is being led higher by Nvidia, but otherwise they're a little bit stalled," said Jay Hatfield, portfolio manager at InfraCap in New York. "The S&P 500 is 11% above its 200-day moving average, which is pretty extended."

"We're in a range-bound market and Nvidia will dominate global equity trading this week."

Comments from Fed officials have reflected the U.S. central bank's cautious view of its progress in reining in inflation and the timing of interest rate cuts.

Fed Vice Chair Philip Jefferson said on Monday it was too early to tell if inflation slowdown is "long lasting," while Vice Chair Michael Barr said restrictive policy needs more time. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said it will "take a while" for the central bank to be confident that price growth is on a sustainable downward path.

"The market is irrational; it started the year expecting six interest rate cuts, but then the pendulum swung completely to the other side, and everybody was talking about increases," Hatfield added.

"We are probably going to grind higher as long as it's clear the next action is going to be a cut and it's going to happen sometime this year."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 196.82 points, or 0.49%, to 39,806.77, the S&P 500 gained 4.86 points, or 0.09%, at 5,308.13 and the Nasdaq Composite added 108.91 points, or 0.65%, to 16,794.87.

European stocks eked out modest gains, held in check by interest rate uncertainty.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.18% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.11%.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.16%. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.19% higher, while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.73%.

U.S. Treasury yields inched higher after Fed officials expressed uncertainty over the timing of rate cuts.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 7/32 in price to yield 4.4453%, from 4.42% late on Friday.

The 30-year bond last fell 11/32 in price to yield 4.5816%, from 4.561% late on Friday.

The dollar posted a slight gain against a basket of world currencies as investors awaited further clues about the path of interest rates.

The dollar index rose 0.15%, with the euro down 0.11% at $1.0858.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.39% versus the greenback at 156.30 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2702, up 0.02% on the day.

Crude prices were stable as investors weighed hawkish Fed commentary against signs that inflation is cooling.

U.S. crude dipped 0.32% to settle at $79.80 per barrel, while Brent settled at $83.71 per barrel, down 0.32% on the day.

Gold touched record highs, coasting on last week's encouraging inflation data, while silver reached its highest level in over 11 years.

Copper, a barometer of economic sentiment, surged to a record high after China announced steps to shore up its crisis-hit property sector.

© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 17, 2024.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Spot gold added 0.4% to $2,424.69 an ounce.

Copper rose 2.97% to $10,985.00 a tonne.

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