U.S. stocks ticked higher in choppy, preholiday trade Friday as an inflation report and a raft of other data did little to change expectations that the Federal Reserve would likely continue hiking interest rates even if the economy slows. What’s happening
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 139 points, or 0.4%, to 33,167.
The S&P 500
advanced 15 points, or 0.4%, to 3,837.
The Nasdaq Composite
fell 5 points, or less than 0.1%, to 10,471.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were on track to log their third consecutive weekly drop on Friday, what would be the longest streak of weekly declines since September. U.S. markets will be closed Monday in observance of Christmas Day, which falls on Sunday.
What’s driving markets Stocks initially traded lower after the release of a raft of economic data including the November PCE report, the Fed’s preferred barometer of inflation, as analysts said the latest batch of data likely had little impact on the Fed’s plan to continue hiking interest rates. U.S. consumer prices increased by just 0.1% last month, less than the 0.2% increase expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. Over the 12 months through November, the yearly rate of inflation slowed to 5.5%, from 6.1% in the prior month. See: High U.S. inflation is on the wane, PCE price gauge shows See also: Consumer spending barely rose at start of holiday shopping season Other economic data were released, including durable-goods orders for November, which sank 2.1%. The final December reading of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index ticked up slightly, but remained weak. While investors were likely pleased to see inflation continue to slow, none of the economic data released this week would justify the Federal Reserve pivoting back toward cutting interest rates soon, said Paul Nolte, a portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management. “The PCE certainly came down a little bit, but it’s nowhere near where the Fed would like it to be,” Nolte said. Because of this, market strategists believe stocks will remain under pressure until the Fed signals that interest-rate cuts are imminent. Weak durable goods orders and other data released this week have stoked concerns about the slowing economy as traders debate whether signs of a slo …