US STOCKS-Wall St muted with weekly gains in sight on rate-cut hopes

BY Reuters | ECONOMIC | 05/17/24 10:08 AM EDT

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Indexes: Dow flat, S&P up 0.02%, Nasdaq up 0.06%

(Updated at 09:40 a.m. ET/ 1340 GMT)

By Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shristi Achar A

May 17 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes were largely flat in early trading on Friday as investors took a breather from the week's rally driven by growing expectations of U.S. interest-rate cuts this year.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were on course for a fourth straight week of gains, while the blue-chip Dow was on track for its fifth weekly advance, supported by strong quarterly results and slowing inflation data that has bolstered the case for rate cuts from the Federal Reserve.

All three main indexes touched record highs on Thursday and the Dow briefly crossed the 40,000 milestone, before reversing gains and closing in the red.

"(Equities) are just trying to sort of digest the past week's economic data," said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth.

"People are now looking at the next catalyst. Most likely it's going to be whether or not the Fed actually cuts. So you got PCE (personal consumption expenditures) coming up, and if that's below expectations then probably see the market continue to trend higher."

Investors will parse comments from Fed officials Christopher Waller and Mary Daly, expected to speak during the day, for further cues on the central bank's monetary policy path.

Traders currently see a 68% chance of the first rate cut in September, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

Of the 11 S&P 500 sectors, utilities underperformed other sectors with a 0.3% fall, while energy shares led gains, up 0.3%

At 09:40 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.10 points to 39,869.48, the S&P 500 gained 1.27 points, or 0.02%, to 5,298.37 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 10.58 points, or 0.06%, to 16,708.90.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) gained 3.4% after Microsoft (MSFT) said it plans to offer its cloud computing customers a platform of AMD artificial intelligence chips that will compete with components made by Nvidia (NVDA).

Reddit (RDDT) rose 13% on partnering with OpenAI to bring its content to ChatGPT.

GameStop (GME) shed 24.1% after filing for a mixed-shelf offering and saying it expects first-quarter net sales to drop from a year ago.

The stock is still set for sharp weekly gains, along with fellow retail investor darling AMC Entertainment (AMC), on excitement over the social media return of "Roaring Kitty", who was the central figure in the 2021 meme-stock rally.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.11-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.13-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 47 new highs and 20 new lows. (Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K and Devika Syamnath)

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Lower-quality debt securities generally offer higher yields, but also involve greater risk of default or price changes due to potential changes in the credit quality of the issuer. Any fixed income security sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to loss.

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