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Wall Street flat with Fed meet in focus

Economy6 minutes ago (Jun 11, 2021 02:12PM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Wall St. sign is seen near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Ambar Warrick and Devik Jain

(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes were flat on Friday as focus turned to next week’s Federal Reserve meeting, while technology and growth- exposed sectors gained after inflation data calmed fears over a long-term spike in consumer prices.

The S&P 500 traded just below a record high of 4,249.74, with heavyweight technology stocks serving as the largest boost. Sectors such as financials and basic resources, that stand to benefit from an economic bounceback this year, also supported the index.

“We would continue to recommend a diversified equity allocation with a barbell approach that has growth exposure on one end, and economically sensitive cyclical exposure on the other end,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York, wrote in a note.

Investors scaled back expectations for early policy tightening by the Fed after May’s consumer price data suggested a recent spike in inflation would be transitory.

Much of the price surge in May came from items such as commodities and airfares and it is expected to be temporary.

A survey also showed that U.S. consumer sentiment improved in early June, while markets trimmed their expectations for inflation levels this year.

With recent data also indicating weakness in the labor market, the Fed is widely expected to maintain accommodative policy at its meeting next week, which is positive for stocks and other risk-driven assets.

“Macro news continues to unfold positively and we’re seeing the market move higher,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“Investors’ enthusiasm continues and yesterday’s S&P close into new record territory suggests that a summer rally is underway … but I don’t expect any galloping increase,” Cardillo said.

At 12:02 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 60.11 points, or 0.17%, at 34,406.13 and the S&P 500 was down 1.78 points, or 0.04%, at 4,237.40. The Nasdaq Composite was up 7.14 points, or 0.05%, at 14,027.47.

Healthcare stocks (SPXHC) sank 1.1% and were among the worst-performing S&P sectors amid growing criticism of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s controversial approval of an Alzheimer’s drug developed by Biogen Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB).

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were set for mild weekly gains, as a lack of major catalysts and a summer lull in trading saw them move in a tight range.

But weakness in major industrial stocks saw the Dow Jones set for a weekly loss amid doubts over whether President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure spending plan would pass.

The S&P industrials sector was flat on Friday, and was set to lose for the week.

Cruise operators fell, with Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) Group shedding 0.4% after two guests on its Celebrity Millennium ship had tested positive for COVID-19.

Stocks favored by small-time retail investors that have dominated trading volumes in recent weeks were set to close higher for the week, even as a rally appeared to be running out of steam on Thursday. Most of the so-called “meme” stocks rose on Friday.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.30-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 26 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 83 new highs and 10 new lows.

Wall Street flat with Fed meet in focus

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