US stocks hit record high as investors digest new economic data

NYSE TRADER

US stocks opened at record highs Friday as investors mulled over the latest batch of economic data that showed an unexpected stagnation in personal spending last month and inflation ticking higher but less than expected.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both climbed to new records, after notching record highs on Thursday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up by more than 100 points.

The Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of core inflation, the Personal Consumption Expenditures index, showed a year over year increase of 3.4% and a monthly increase of 0.4%. Meanwhile, purchases of goods and services were unchanged in May.

The S&P 500 was set for its largest weekly advance since April while the Nasdaq could close the week higher for the sixth week in a row, the longest run in the green since January 2020.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Friday:

Chris Zaccarelli, Independent Advisor Alliance chief investment officer, said the inflation data will likely not impact the Federal Reserve’s current plans for tapering and rate hikes. The most recent Fed official speeches suggest the central bank could begin a tapering plan in the next 6-12 months and raise rates as soon as 18 months from now, he said.

“Despite the change in direction of Fed policy, the current state of near-zero interest rates and $120/billion per month in asset purchases has created extremely loose financial conditions, which in conjunction with the vaccines and re-opening process, is what has allowed the stock market to hit all-time highs,” Zaccarelli added.

Also lifting stocks Friday is the announcement that President Joe Biden struck a deal with Republicans on a $1 trillion infrastructure package, which includes $579 billion of new spending. Roads, bridges and rail networks would be particular priorities.

Bank shares extended gains Friday after the Federal Reserve said lenders had passed stress tests and could resume stock buybacks and dividend payments.

Bitcoin slipped 2.59% to $32,977.73.

West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.37% to $73.57 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, gained 0.34% to $75.82.

Gold gained 0.66% to $1,788.30 per ounce.