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US close: Markets gain ahead of CPI data, Meta leads tech stocks higher

(Sharecast News) - After a tentative start, US stocks finished with decent gains on Wednesday with the S&P 500 inching ever closer to its record high, though market sentiment was still cautious ahead of latest inflation figures due out the following session. The Dow finished 0.5% higher, the Nasdaq rose 0.8%, while the S&P 500 gained 0.6% to 4,783.45, just a handful of points away from the all-time high of 4,796.56 reached in January 2022.

Investors were looking ahead to the latest consumer price index report, due out on Thursday, with economists expecting to see CPI rising 3.2% year-on-year in December, up from 3.1% the month before. Core inflation, however, is expected to ease to 3.8% from 4.0%.

Market participants will thumb over the data in search of any hints as to exactly when the central bank may see fit to start cutting interest rates, with expectations being reeled back in recent days.

"An upside surprise has the potential to undermine the narrative of an early Fed rate cut, as well as pushing yields back up again," said analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets.

On a similar vein, New York Fed president John Williams said rates could need to stay elevated "for some time" until inflation comes closer to the Fed's 2% target. "We still have a ways to go," he said in a speech on Wednesday.

In other news, this week will see the start of fourth-quarter earnings season in the US with banking giants JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo all due to unveil their latest figures on Friday.

Meanwhile, US mortgage application volume rose 9.9% in the week ended 5 January, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the biggest increase in a year. Applications to refinance a home loan surged 19% week-on-week and were 30% higher year-on-year, while applications for a mortgage to purchase a home rose 6% week-on-week but were 16% lower than at the same time a year ago.

Meta leads tech stocks higher

Retailers and tech stocks were leading the risers on Wednesday, with Home Depot, Microsoft, Walmart, Salesforce, IBM and Apple among the best performers on the Dow.

Meta shares rose 3.7% to hit their highest level in over two years after positive comments from analysts at Mizuho Financial Group, which hiked its target price for the shares from $400 to $470, up from $370.47 by the close. Mizuho said the market's current revenue growth forecast for 2024 "appears conservative, considering tailwinds from product improvements, increased engagement (AI content distribution), and rising demand of Chinese advertisers".

Intuitive Surgical was a high riser, jumping over 10% after the medtech company beat forecasts with its fourth-quarter results due to a rise in surgeries using its robotic device da Vinci.

Dow Jones - Risers

Home Depot Inc. (HD) $356.80 3.06% Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) $382.77 1.86% Walmart Inc. (WMT) $161.29 1.24% McDonald's Corp. (MCD) $294.24 1.11% Salesforce.Com Inc. (CRM) $264.13 1.07% Nike Inc. (NKE) $103.77 1.00% Boeing Co. (BA) $227.84 0.92% International Business Machines Corporation (CDI) (IBM) $160.96 0.72% Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) $50.24 0.66% Apple Inc. (AAPL) $186.19 0.57%

Dow Jones - Fallers

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) $24.68 -2.68% Intel Corp. (INTC) $47.47 -1.21% Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) $53.38 -1.04% American Express Co. (AXP) $184.97 -0.96% Chevron Corp. (CVX) $144.50 -0.82% Amgen Inc. (AMGN) $304.76 -0.81% 3M Co. (MMM) $108.26 -0.73% Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) $381.96 -0.46% Walt Disney Co. (DIS) $89.29 -0.42% Unitedhealth Group Inc. (UNH) $537.78 -0.14%

S&P 500 - Risers

Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG) $364.45 10.25% CenturyLink Inc. (LUMN) $1.70 4.29% Meta Platforms Inc. (META) $370.47 3.65% Lennar Corp. Class A (LEN) $153.35 3.50% Fortinet Inc. (FTNT) $61.37 3.32% Seagate Technology Plc (STX) $82.68 3.21% Mettler Toledo International (MTD) $1,176.44 3.16% Home Depot Inc. (HD) $356.80 3.06% VeriSign Inc. (VRSN) $203.57 3.04% AFLAC Inc. (AFL) $82.64 2.59%

S&P 500 - Fallers

Quest Diagnostics (DGX) $137.10 -3.53% Capital One Financial Corp. (COF) $128.80 -3.00% Phillips 66 Common Stock (PSX) $129.48 -2.85% Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) $24.68 -2.68% Estee Lauder Co. Inc. (EL) $135.67 -2.58% MGM Resorts International (MGM) $43.49 -2.51% Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) $43.72 -2.41% National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NOV) $19.09 -2.15% IQVIA Holdings Inc. (IQV) $217.13 -2.08% McCormick & Co. (MKC) $66.22 -2.01%

Nasdaq 100 - Risers

Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG) $364.45 10.25% Meta Platforms Inc. (META) $370.47 3.65% Seagate Technology Plc (STX) $82.68 3.21% DENTSPLY Sirona Inc. (XRAY) $37.38 2.33% Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) $543.50 2.28% Western Digital Corp. (WDC) $50.51 2.18% Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) $382.77 1.86% Mercadolibre Inc. (MELI) $1,598.16 1.58% Amazon.Com Inc. (AMZN) $153.73 1.56% Hasbro Inc (HAS) $50.75 1.31%

Nasdaq 100 - Fallers

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) $24.68 -2.68% Liberty Global plc Series C (LBTYK) $19.64 -2.19% Liberty Global plc Series A (LBTYA) $18.60 -2.00% Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) $84.50 -1.81% Kraft Heinz Co. (KHC) $37.89 -1.71% Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) $93.67 -1.67% Vodafone Group Plc ADS (VOD) $8.78 -1.57% Intel Corp. (INTC) $47.47 -1.21% Micron Technology Inc. (MU) $82.38 -1.14% Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ) $73.08 -0.90%

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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