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Stocks climbed Friday, ending a strong first half on a high note amid more signs of cooling from the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 1.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose over 300 points, or just under 1%. The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) added 1.5%.
All three major stock benchmarks logged strong performances for both the year's second quarter and first half. The Nasdaq is up more than 30% since the start of the year, according to Yahoo Finance data. That represented its best first half of the year since 1983, according to data from Bespoke Investment.
The benchmark S&P 500 has gained around 16%, while the Dow has put up a more modest 4% gain.
On Friday, the Fed's preferred inflation index showed prices rose 3.8% in May on a year-over-year basis, down from a 4.4% year-over-year jump in April. And from April to May, prices ticked up just 0.1%.
The data comes after a surprise upward revision to first-quarter GDP showed the US economy is a lot stronger than Wall Street thought. Growing faith in that strength has helped drive this year's rally in stocks, even though that resilience likely means rates will stay higher for longer.
Stocks closed Friday higher in a historically good first half of the year for pockets of the market. Driven by an AI-focused rally, the Nasdaq has surged more than 30% in the first six months of the year. That’s the best start of the year for the technology-heavy index since 1983, per Bespoke Investment.
Meanwhile, the benchmark S&P 500 has gained around 16%, while the Dow has put up a more modest 4% gain.
For Friday, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 1.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) added around 0.8%. The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) led the way, rising over 1.4%.
While next week will be a relatively quiet week on the corporate earnings front, some economic data will highlight the calendar. The biggest event will come on Friday with the June jobs report set for release at 8:30 a.m. ET. But a day prior, investors will once again digest another set of weekly jobless claims.
That data will be the key to determining when the economy will be tipping closer to a recession, according to Evercore’s Julian Emanuel.
“You have this ratchet higher to where the four-week moving average is in the neighborhood of 250,000, certainly off the bottom, but not recession by any stretch of the imagination,” Emanuel told Yahoo Finance Live on Friday. “The Fed would probably like to see that creep higher. However, it’s one of the situations where you start moving sustainably above 300,000 a week and then recession really draws near. We’re not there yet. But that is, if anything, the key statistic to watch.”
Emanuel’s comments come the day after a three-week uptrend in jobless claims ended with claims hitting their lowest levels since May. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg are projecting 240,000 jobless claims to be announced in next week’s report.
A strong week of economic data, including an upward revision to GDP and better-than-expected new home sales in May, helped send stocks rallying to finish the first half of the year. But even as recession forecasts are pushed back, some economists aren’t quick to say the economic resilience is going to last.
“The economy has proven more resilient than we previously expected owing largely to consumption,” Bank of America US economist Michael Gapen wrote on Friday. “However, we do not expect such robust prints to continue. Momentum in the economy should slow as the lagged effects of tighter monetary policy and financial conditions start to take hold.”
Personal spending and income data revealed Friday showed consumers continue to see monthly income increases, and personal spending remains higher than a month ago. Oxford economics lead US Economist Oren Klachkin called the resiliency of consumer spending a “key upside risk to our forecast.” But even still, Klachkin sees the slowdown coming later this year, too.
“The strength of consumer spending has surprised us, but we expect it to be tested in the latter half of the year as the economy weakens,” Klachkin wrote. “Weaker incomes, the rundown of excess savings, less willingness to tap credit lines, and elevated inflation will leave consumers with little choice but to cut back on spending.”
Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has seen shares fall roughly 50% since the completion of its $43 billion merger in April 2022.
Since that time, the company has faced an uphill battle, plagued with challenges that include executive shake-ups, box office bombs, company-wide layoffs, and more.
But analysts and industry watchers still think the company is on the right path.
“There were mistakes made but also separate issues out of their control,” Bank of America analyst Jessica Reif-Ehrlich told Yahoo Finance, referencing macro challenges like the weakening ad market and increased linear cord-cutting.
Still, the analyst, who has a Buy rating on the stock and $21 price target, said she remains confident in WBD’s future as it works to pare down its massive debt load.
“I am optimistic [this merger] will work. It’s still very early in its lifecycle,” she said. “If [Discovery] can’t make it work, somebody else will. Warner Bros. has the best asset class and the best library.”
Attorney Bryan Sullivan, partner at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae, echoed the same sentiment, explaining the two companies are stronger together than apart.
“I’m buying stock in it,” he told Yahoo Finance. “I think it has way too much IP that’s valuable.”
The media giant, which is targeting $4 billion in cost saving synergies over the next two years, saw streaming losses reverse in the first quarter as subscriber growth came in above consensus estimates.
The company revised previous guidance, saying it now expects its US direct-to-consumer business to be profitable by this year. Previously, the company said the streaming division will break even by next year before hitting profitability in two years.
“[WBD] has its costs in a really good place now,” Ehrlich said. “When revenue starts to improve — whether it’s from advertising, film, or subscription now that Max has launched — the company is in a phenomenal position, and they’ll have significant leverage.”
Read more here.
Shares of Chinese electric-vehicle maker Xpeng rose nearly 15% on Friday as the company launched a new EV nearly 20% cheaper than Tesla’ Model Y.
Yahoo Finance’s Ines Ferre reports: The G6 vehicle starts at $28,950. Tesla’s price for the Model Y currently sits around $47,240. The unveiling in Shanghai sent American Depository Shares (ADRs) of peers NIO (NIO) and Li Auto (LI) higher on Friday.
The electric vehicle space in China is in the middle of a fierce pricing war after EV giant Tesla slashed its prices last year in an effort to sell more vehicles, versus a strategy of lower volumes and higher margins. In May, BYD— seen as Tesla’s strongest competitor in China cut the ticket price of its SEAL sedan by 10%. In June, EV maker NIO announced it was taking $4,200 off all its vehicle offerings in China.
“We think the price war initiated by Tesla, in addition to massive launches of new EV models by competitors in 2023, will weigh on XPeng’s pricing power,” analyst Aaron Ho of CFRA said in a note to investors earlier this week. Ho has a Sell rating on the stock and a $7 price target.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) hit its highest levels in more than two months on Friday afternoon as stocks rallied on the heels of strong economic data and cooling inflation.
The S&P 500 rose more than 1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose about 250 points, or 0.74%, with both set to build on Thursday’s gains. The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) added 1.38%.
Several travel stocks hit 52-week highs on Friday heading into the 4th of July holiday weekend, Yahoo Finance’s Ines Ferré reports.
Marriott International (MAR), Carnival (CCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line, (NCLH) all touched intraday 52-week peaks during the session.
Travel and leisure is one of the sectors of the economy that has been going strong despite the Fed’s tight monetary policy.
Carnival shares jumped 8% to a high of $18.68. The cruise line operator recently announced record quarterly bookings. “We’re back,” Carnival CEO Josh Weinstein told Yahoo Finance earlier this year.
Outside of travel, Mastercard (MA) and GE (GE) also hit a 52-week highs.
Overall, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) is up roughly 15% this year.
The Supreme Court rejected President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan that would’ve canceled more than $400 million in student loans for Americans. The news sent two stocks down.
SoFi Technologies (SOFI) initially popped on the news as a key portion of the financial operator’s business centers around providing student loans. But shares quickly slipped down nearly 3%. Some Wall Street analysts have recently said SoFI’s more than 80% run upward this year has been overdone.
Shares of Target (TGT) also appeared to move on the news with the retailer’s stock falling more than 1% after the announcement.
Nike stock was down just more than 1% in early morning trading as declining margins weighed on profits in the most recent quarter.
But what caught our eye during the company’s earnings call Thursday night was the commentary surrounding selling products direct-to-consumer. The company projected mid-single digit sales growth in 2024 “led by Nike Direct.”
With recent announcements that Nike would be returning to Macy’s and DSW stores, Wall Street had wondered if the athletic apparel giant was pivoting from its DTC strategy.
When asked directly about the new wholesale partners, Nike executives said there isn’t a broader shift happening.
“Our digital apps, our mobile apps are unmatched in the industry and that’s our fastest-growing channel, that will continue to be our fastest-growing channel because we directly connect to the consumer digitally,” Nike CEO and President John Donahoe said. “We augment that with owned retail, where we are building out stores, NIKE stores, in segments that are currently under-served by our Wholesale partners…Our direct business will continue to grow the fastest, but we’ll continue to expand our marketplace strategy to enable access to as may consumers as possible and drive growth.
The strategy isn’t pleasing everyone on Wall Street, though. BMO Capital Markets’ Simeon Siegel wrote in a note after the earnings report that “all regions’ margins moved against DTC Penetration, leading us to keep fearing that Direct hurts, not helps, margin.”
Below, a chart from Siegel and BMO highlights that where Nike is increasing the portion of sales that are direct-to-consumer, it’s margins are decreasing.
Consumers are feeling increasingly optimistic about the current state of the economy and where things are headed. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment index showed a reading of 64.4 in June, the highest reading since February and above last month’s 59.2 reading.
“This striking upswing reflects a recovery in attitudes generated by the early-month resolution of the debt ceiling crisis, along with more positive feelings over softening inflation,” University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers Director Joanne Hsu said. “Views of their own personal financial situation were unchanged, however, as persistent high prices and expenses continued to weigh on consumers.
Coupled with an inflation report that showed prices cooling to their lowest levels in two years and other signs of confidence from consumers earlier this week released by the Conference Board, Friday’s consumer sentiment reading caps a week of strong economic data to close out the first half of the year.
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