Dow hits record high as inflation fears recede after data

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Dow hits record high as inflation fears recede after data

(Reuters) – The blue-chip Dow index hit a record high on Wednesday after tepid consumer prices data for February eased concerns about a spike in inflation and elevated bond yields.

Accelerated vaccine rollouts and a monster fiscal stimulus on the horizon have raised bets on higher inflation, triggering a spike in Treasury yields that pushed the tech-heavy Nasdaq down as much as 12% from its Feb. 12 record close last week.

On Wednesday, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield slipped from its session highs after data indicated the core consumer prices index, which excludes volatile items such as food and energy, rose less than expected last month.

Focus is on an auction of U.S. 10-year bonds later in the day for clues to where yields in the recently volatile market may be headed.

“Markets are rising on three factors – tame inflation, passage of the coronavirus aid package and a strong rally in tech stocks in the previous session,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“We have a bond auction up ahead which is expected to go well. If it’s a sloppy auction we could see yields rise again and that could take some enthusiasm out of the market.”

Meanwhile, bank strategists are raising their estimates for U.S. corporate profitability this year following surprisingly strong fourth-quarter earnings and growing optimism about an economic rebound.

At 11:46 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 376.12 points, or 1.18%, to 32,208.86, the S&P 500 gained 23.42 points, or 0.60%, to 3,898.86 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 28.50 points, or 0.21%, to 13,102.33.

The Nasdaq extended gains after logging its best one-day percentage jump in four months on Tuesday, helped by a rise in momentum stocks that had recently taken a beating due to higher yields.

Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Tesla Inc extended gains by 0.3% to 1.7% from the previous session, while economy-linked industrial, materials and financial indexes hovered near record highs.

The chunk of a $1.9 trillion relief aid, which could win final approval at the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, could end up in the stock market and could provide a boost for GameStop and other stocks popular among retail investors active in online social media forums.

Shares of GameStop jumped another 33%, setting the videogame retailer on track for its longest streak of daily gains in six months and extending a rally that has already doubled the company’s market value.

Among other “meme” stocks, Koss Corp and AMC Entertainment jumped 104% and 13%.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.6-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.9-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 30 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 302 new highs and 27 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel