Wall St stocks end higher with major corporate earnings in view


FILE PHOTO: Wall Street ends slightly lower, capping blockbuster year

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks ended higher on Monday following a market sell-off in previous sessions as investors eyed a busy week for quarterly results from key companies that would provide a glimpse of the U.S. economy's health.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rebounded from a decline over the past six sessions which had been caused by investors re-evaluating their expectations on interest rate cuts in the wake of strong economic data, geopolitical tensions, persistent inflation and commentary from Federal Reserve officials.

All 11 S&P 500 sectors closed higher, with technology and financial stocks leading gains.

Markets were gearing up for quarterly results from megacap companies this week, including some of the so-called Magnificent Seven stocks such as Tesla, Meta Platforms, Alphabet and Microsoft.

"I think it's just standard buy-on-the-dip after a 5% pullback that kind of wakes people up to put money to work," said Lamar Villere, portfolio manager at Villere & Co in New Orleans.

"Investors are looking ahead to this week with hugely significant earnings coming out and with concerns about what the Fed is doing with pushing back any rate cuts," Villere added.

Money markets are pricing in only about 41 basis points (bps) of rate cuts this year, down from about 150 bps seen at the beginning of the year, according to LSEG data.

In addition to top corporate earnings, markets are also awaiting the release later this week of the March personal consumption expenditure (PCE) data - the Fed's preferred inflation gauge - to further ascertain the trajectory of monetary policy.

Fed policymakers are in a media blackout period ahead of their policy meeting on May 1.

The S&P 500 gained 43.37 points, or 0.87%, to 5,010.60 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 169.30 points, or 1.11%, to 15,451.31. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 253.58 points, or 0.67%, to 38,239.98.

Megacap growth stocks ended higher, with gains in Alphabet, Amazon.com and Apple between 0.5% and 1.5%. Nvidia gained 4.4% to rebound from a 10% drop in the previous session.

"This is predicated on positive technical expectations on tech earnings and traders not wanting to be short in front of it, and the PCE numbers later this week that people are somewhat sanguine about as well," said Thomas Hayes, chairman of hedge fund Great Hill Capital in New York.

Tesla shares dropped 3.4% as the electric vehicle maker cut prices in a number of its major markets, including China and Germany, following price reductions in the United States.

Cardinal Health fell 5% after the drug distributor said its contracts with UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx, one of its largest customers, will not be renewed when they expire at the end of June.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.87-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. There were 49 new highs and 76 new lows on the NYSE.

On the Nasdaq, 2,682 stocks rose and 1,499 fell as advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.79-to-1 ratio. The S&P 500 posted 9 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 40 new highs and 184 new lows. Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.33 billion shares, compared with the 11.03 billion average for the last 20 days. - Reuters

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