Markets closed sharply higher on Thursday, as weaker-than-expected inflation data eased fears of faster interest rate hikes this year. The solid gains were led by a rally in tech stocks, with shares of Apple closing at a record high. Also, energy stocks continued to perform well. This saw all three major indexes ending the day in positive territory.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 0.8%, to close at 24,739.53, registering its sixth straight day of gains. The S&P 500 increased 0.9% to close at 2,723.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 7,404.97, increasing 0.9%. The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), dropped 2.6% to 13.10. A total of 6.7 billion shares were traded on Wednesday, higher than the last 20-session average of 6.6 billion shares. Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 2.57-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 1.65-to-1 ratio favored advancing issues.
How did the Benchmark Perform?
The Dow gained 196.99 points, registering its longest winning stretch in more than two months. United Health and Exxon Mobil led the rally in the 20-stock exchange. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 65.07 points, registering its fifth straight day of gains, the best longest stretch since February.
The S&P 500 gained 25.28 points, with the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) gaining 1.3%. All 11 major S&P 500 sectors ended the day in positive territory. Shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) , Facebook, Inc. (FB - Free Report) , Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN - Free Report) and Alphabet, Inc. (GOOGL - Free Report) all rallied on Thursday. Amazon sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Tech Stocks Rally
Tech stocks once again drove markets on Thursday, led by Apple. The iPhone maker last week shared plans of a $100 billion buyback plan, followed by an announcement by celebrity investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B - Free Report) that it had bought 70 million shares of Apple in the first quarter. This saw shares of Apple rising.
The bullish sentiment among investors continued on Thursday, which saw the company’s shares further rising. Shares of Apple increased 1.4% to close at a record high of $190.04. In fact, Apple is just 7% away from becoming the first company to have a market capitalization of $1 trillion.
Weak Inflation Data
The Labor Department said that consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.2% in April compared to expectations of 0.3%. Moreover, core CPI increased, which excludes food and energy components increased 0.1% in April, slower than February and March. This somewhat erased fear of faster interest rate hikes by the Fed than being expected by markets.
Oil Prices on the Rise
Oil prices rallied on Wednesday in the wake of United States’ decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal. The rally somewhat stabilized on Thursday after Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said that nothing significant will happen to oil exports as a result of the sanctions. However, oil prices once again perked up at the end of the session to end the day higher. Notably, oil prices are at a three-year high. This saw a rally in energy stocks once again. Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) gained 0.8%. WTI Crude Oil increased 0.3% to $71.36 a barrel, while Brent Crude Oil rose 0.3% to $77.47 per barrel.
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