SPX

Wall Street ends higher as retail sales slump feeds hopes for rate cuts

Credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID

By Carolina Mandl, Johann M Cherian and Ankika Biswas

Feb 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday as retail sales data declined more than expected, feeding hopes the Federal Reserve will soon start cutting interest rates in coming months.

A Commerce Department report showed U.S. retail sales dropped 0.8% in January, weighed by declines at auto dealerships and gasoline service stations.

The data had investors less stressed about hotter than expected inflation data that had sent stocks lower on Tuesday.

"Investors are cheering the fact that we got a weaker-than-anticipated retail report," said Neville Javeri, a portfolio manager at Allspring Global Investments. "Maybe the consumer is slowing, maybe this negates the higher CPI number we saw a couple of days ago."

"It shows that maybe the economy might be a little weak and so that's a sort of a bad news that is potentially good news because it means the Fed is more likely to cut rates," said Thomas Martin, senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT.

Bets for a rate cut of at least 25 basis points in May edged up to 40%, while the odds for June stood at roughly 79%, according to the CME Group's FedWatch Tool.

A Labor Department report showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits stood at 212,000 for the week ended Feb. 10, lower than the estimated 220,000.

On Friday, a producer price index (PPI) report will provide more clues about the economy.

The S&P 500 .SPX gained 29.05 points, or 0.58%, to end at 5,029.67 points, while the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 47.03 points, or 0.30%, to 15,906.17. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 350.07 points, or 0.91%, to 38,774.73.

Apple shares were pressured as Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway BRKa.N trimmed its large stake in the iPhone-maker and Soros Fund Management entirely dissolved its stake. But the stock bounced in late trading and closed down just 0.1%.

Investor optimism grew as 80.3% of S&P 500 companies have now beaten earnings expectations, LSEG data showed, surpassing the annual 76% average.

CBRE Group CBRE.N soared8.5% after forecasting annual profit largely above estimates, driving a rise in the S&P 500 real estate sector .SPLRCR.

Wells Fargo WFC.N jumped 7.2% after the bank said the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has terminated a 2016 consent order over the bank's sales practices misconduct.

Recently underperforming sectors such as utilities .SPLRCU, materials .SPLRCM and energy .SPNY notched strong gains. The small-cap Russell 2000 Index also .RUT advanced 2.3%.

Cisco Systems CSCO.O fell2.43% as it announced plans to cut 5% of its global workforce and lowered its annual revenue target.

Deere & Co DE.N, the world's largest farm-equipment maker, lost 5.2% after cutting its 2024 profit forecast. West Pharmaceutical Services N> tumbled 14.1% after forecasting full-year results below estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 5.3-to-1 ratio on the NYSE, while on Nasdaq advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.4-to-1 ratio.

On U.S. exchanges 12.24 billion shares changed hands compared with the 11.7 billion moving average for the last 20 sessions.

Monthly change in US retail sales https://reut.rs/3uD8tBF

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl, in New York, Johann M Cherian and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai and David Gregorio)

((johann.mcherian@thomsonreuters.com;))

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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