Wall St rises as megacaps gain, yields slip ahead of US inflation data

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Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., August 15, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Acquire Licensing Rights

  • Gilead Sciences rises as BofA upgrades to 'buy'
  • Kroger gains on Q2 adj profit beat
  • Indexes up: Dow 0.28%, S&P 0.28%, Nasdaq 0.39%

Sept 8 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes rose on Friday with a rising technology sector helping Nasdaq regain ground after four straight declines, but gains were limited as investors waited tentatively for August U.S. inflation readings.

Growth stocks benefited from a dip in U.S. Treasury yields. Microsoft (MSFT.O) rose more than 1%, and Apple (AAPL.O) was up 1% after a deep two-day selloff following news Beijing had ordered central government employees to stop using iPhones at work.

Wall Street analysts calculated just a small hit to Apple revenue this year from the curbs, with Morgan Stanley calling a 4% drop the worst case scenario.

After losing 2.9% in two sessions, the S&P 500 information technology (.SPLRCT) sector was up 0.5%. Defensive utilities (.SPLRCU) and energy (.SPNY) led gains among the 11 S&P 500 industry sectors with support from rising crude prices.

"This is just a little bit of a dead cat bounce," said Kenny Polcari, Chief market strategist at Slatestone Wealth, Jupiter, Florida who pointed to "three to four days of real pressure on the market because of the China news on Apple and because of the spike in oil prices."

"Oil caused nervousness in the market that inflation is not under control and in technology the Apple news gave investors opportunities to take profits from outperformers," he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 98.01 points, or 0.28%, to 34,598.74, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 12.39 points, or 0.28%, to 4,463.53 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 53.02 points, or 0.39%, to 13,801.85.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were on track for declines of more than 1% for the week, shortened by Monday's market holiday on Labor Day. The Dow was down 0.7% for the week so far.

Inflation fears stemming from rising oil prices, stronger-than-expected services activity data and a fall in weekly jobless claims, have fed concerns the Federal Reserve may keep interest rates higher for longer.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for August is due on Sept. 13; the Federal Reserve's next interest rate decision is scheduled for Sept. 20.

"My expectation is that the CPI print could come in higher than expected (with) the price of oil pushing higher," said Phil Blancato, chief executive officer of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management.

"We have a problem where ultimately the Fed may be pushed into a corner, and while they might take a pause because of the lag effect, I don't think they're done."

Traders' bets that interest rates stay at current levels in September stood at 95%, and they have priced in a near 55% chance for a pause in rate hikes in the November meeting, according to CME FedWatch Tool.

Mixed comments from Fed officials have added to uncertainty. New York Fed President John Williams kept his options open, while Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan said though it "could be appropriate" to keep rates steady at the next meeting, more tightening might be needed.

In individual stocks, Kroger (KR.N) was up 4.3% after the retailer beat estimates for quarterly adjusted profit.

Gilead Sciences (GILD.O) added 2.6% after BofA Securities upgraded the drugmaker to "buy" from "neutral."

GameStop (GME.N) was off 6% after a report that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the videogame retailer's chairman, Ryan Cohen.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.40-to-1 ratio. The S&P 500 posted 13 new 52-week highs and 15 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 34 new highs and 192 new lows.

Reporting by Sinéad Carew in New York, Shristi Achar A and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Vinay Dwivedi and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Shristi is a correspondent, part of the markets team reporting on the stock markets across U.S., UK, Canada, Europe and Emerging markets.

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