Stocks managed to post gains on light volume ahead of the long holiday weekend.
Reassuring data on inflation (opens in new tab) soothed traders’ nerves, which have been rattled in December by the Federal Reserve’s policy of relentlessly hiking interest rates (opens in new tab). Be that as it may, not many market participants are around at this time of year, which makes it tough to develop takeaways from what the equity benchmarks are doing.
That’s especially true this year, given that the stock market will be closed (opens in new tab) Monday in observance of Christmas, which falls on a weekend in 2022.
For the most part, economic data on durable goods and inflation drove Friday’s session.
As for the former, the Commerce Department reported that durable goods (opens in new tab) orders plunged 2.1% in November, which was well short of economists’ forecast for a decline of 0.6%. We also saw the release of the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation known as the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (opens in new tab) (PCE).
The latest report showed that inflation slowed in November (opens in new tab) to a 5.5% increase in prices vs. the prior month. That was in line with economists’ forecasts and represented a slowdown from October’s 6.1% monthly rise in prices. Any data that suggests the Fed is succeeding in taming the worst inflation in four decades is generally applauded by the market, which is desperate for the central bank to slow its policy of interest rate hikes (opens in new tab).
In less bullish news, the PCE report also showed that consumer spending (opens in new tab) rose just 0.1% in November, which represented a deceleration from October’s increase of 0.9%. The figure troubled at least some market participants as it could signal a potential slowdown in consumer spending.
“November’s personal income and expenditure report was close to what markets were expecting, even though consumption was relatively weak in both nominal and real terms,” wrote Eugenio J. Alemán, chief economist at Raymond James (opens in new tab). “The report was consistent with the weak retail sales report earlier this month, where we saw a very weak print for the consumption of goods and a relatively strong print for the consumption of services.”
At the closing bell, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5% to finish at 33,203, while the broader S&P 500 gained 0.6% to 3,844. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2% to close at 10,497.
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