US STOCKS-Dow outperforms Wall Street in thin trading week

Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Shashwat Chauhan and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

March 27 (Reuters) - The Dow outpaced Wall Street peers in lean trading on Wednesday, boosted by strong gains in drugmaker Merck, while investors awaited crucial economic data and commentary from the central bank's policymakers with the long holiday weekend approaching.

Merck & CoMRK.N advanced 3.7% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its therapy for adults suffering from a rare lung condition.

At current levels, the blue-chip Dow is around 1% shy of the 40,000-point mark, which it has never breached.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index .SOX, however, inched higher, with Marvell Technology MRVL.O among the top gainers, up 4.4%.

All three major U.S. stock indexes eye quarterly gains as an artificial intelligence-fueled rally helped Wall Street reach record highs recently. Optimism about the Fed cutting borrowing costs later in the year also added to gains.

Traders see a 70% chance the Fed will begin its easing cycle in June, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE), the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, is due on Good Friday, when the U.S. stock market will be closed. An upside surprise to inflation could potentially dampen market enthusiasm around early rate cuts.

Also on tap this week is the final fourth-quarter GDP print, the University of Michigan's reading of consumer sentiment and weekly jobless claims data.

At 11:42 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 231.38 points, or 0.59%, at 39,513.71, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 15.24 points, or 0.29%, at 5,218.82, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 5.61 points, or 0.03%, at 16,310.09.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were trading higher, with utilities .SPLRCU and real estate .SPLRCR leading gains, while information technology .SPLRCT lagged.

"We're in a strong bull market... this is kind of a lull in the bull market (today) because there's very few catalysts," said Jay Hatfield, portfolio manager at Infrastructure Capital Advisors in New York.

"What you are seeing is a back-and-forth in buying and alternating between tech and value stocks."

Among individual stocks, Trump Media & Technology GroupDJT.O jumped 17.8%, a day after its stellar Nasdaq debut.

Robinhood MarketsHOOD.O climbed 3% after the online trading app launched a new credit card.

Cintas CorpCTAS.O advanced 9.2% after the uniform rental firm raised its forecasts for annual revenue and profit.

GameStopGME.N plunged 13.7% after the videogame retailer reported lower fourth-quarter revenue and said it had cut an unspecified number of jobs to reduce costs.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.11-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.00-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 38 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 69 new highs and 57 new lows.

(Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Pooja Desai)


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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