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US stocks climb higher after stable PCE inflation data; Dell slumps

wall street


U.S. stocks rose on Friday, reversing earlier declines after signs of cooling inflation boosted hopes for upcoming interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

At 09:35 ET (13:35 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 75 points, or 0.2%, the S&P 500 climbed by 7 points, or 0.1%, and the NASDAQ Composite gained 10 points, or 0.1%.

PCE Data Boosts Sentiment

Sentiment improved after the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, remained steady at 2.7% in April, unchanged from March, indicating no acceleration in inflation.

Excluding volatile items like food and fuel, the year-on-year “core” PCE also matched the previous month’s 2.8%, aligning with expectations. Monthly figures showed a slight deviation, with the headline PCE at 0.3%, matching March, while the “core” monthly figure increased by 0.2%, below the expected 0.3%.

Recently, sentiment has been dampened by doubts that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year, as policymakers caution that persistent inflation may prevent the central bank from easing policy soon. Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan expressed concerns about inflation’s upside risks, emphasizing the need for the Fed to remain “flexible” and keep “all options on the table.”

Despite these concerns, all major benchmarks are poised to record a sixth positive month in seven. The DJIA is up 0.8% this month, the S&P 500 has increased by 4%, and the Nasdaq Composite has gained about 7%, on track for its best month since November 2023.

Dell Slumps on Weak Earnings, Zscaler Rises

In the corporate sector, the tail end of the first-quarter earnings season has resulted in some volatile movements.

Dell Technologies (NYSE


) fell 15% after the technology group issued a lower-than-expected earnings outlook for the current quarter, citing increased spending on building servers for artificial intelligence workloads, which is expected to impact full-year margins.

Apparel retailer Nordstrom (NYSE


) dropped 3% following a disappointing quarterly profit report, while developer data platform MongoDB (NASDAQ


) plummeted 23%.

Conversely, Gap (NYSE


) surged 20% after raising its annual sales forecast and reporting first-quarter results that exceeded market expectations. Cloud security firm Zscaler (NASDAQ


) rose 15% after reporting strong quarterly earnings and raising its guidance.

Crude Heading for Monthly Losses

Crude prices edged higher on Friday, aided by the U.S. inflation data, but were still on track for monthly losses due to concerns over weaker demand this year.

By 09:35 ET, U.S. crude futures (WTI) were up 0.3% at $78.16 per barrel, while the Brent contract increased by 0.5% to $82.27 a barrel. Both benchmarks are expected to decline between 1% and 2% in May.

U.S. oil inventories saw a larger-than-expected draw last week, according to data released on Thursday, but gasoline inventories increased by 2 million barrels, more than anticipated. This raised concerns about sluggish demand in the world’s largest fuel consumer as the travel-heavy summer season approaches.

Additionally, weak Chinese manufacturing activity data indicated a slowdown in growth in the world’s largest crude importer.

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