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Wall St rises despite US growth concerns

Wall Street has rallyed to close higher in light trading, with investors entering the long holiday weekend and entering the second half of the year in search of the next market-changing catalyst.

All three major US stock indices reversed early losses and ended in positive territory after the stock market’s worst first half in decades.

Still, all three indices posted losses for the week.

“We are going into the holiday weekend and have a late rally rally,” said Joseph Sroka, chief investment officer at NovaPoint in Atlanta.

“But we’ll probably have to wait for investors to return from the holiday weekend to see if it’s sustainable at the start of the new quarter.”

Market participants are now looking at the second quarter earnings season, the Labor Department’s June employment report and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting expected later in July.

The microchip sector fell sharply after Micron Technology Inc warned of cooling demand, and its shares dragged the broader semiconductor sector down.

Concerns about declining demand in the face of decades-long inflation were reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Purchasing Managers Index, which showed a slowdown in the input prices of both new orders.

The ISM report seemed to support the view that the economy is cooling and that inflation appears to have peaked.

This has raised the possibility that the Fed has room for easing after its second consecutive 75 basis point rate hike of 75 basis points, which is expected in July.

“The Fed will need a lot more evidence to change its mind about further rate hikes,” said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist Ingalls & Snyder in New York.

“There is still a lot of uncertainty about the economy and inflation, despite the first signs that inflation has peaked.”

The S&P 500 gained 41.01 points or 1.08 percent to finish at 3,825.39 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 101.49 points or 0.92 percent to 11,130.23 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average 320.77 points or 1.04 percent rose to 31,096.20.

The reporting season for the second quarter will start in a few weeks and 130 of the companies in the S&P 500 have announced it in advance.

Of those, 45 were positive and 77 were negative, a weaker negative/positive ratio than a year ago, according to data from Refinitiv.

The prospect of profit margins bearing the brunt of rising inflation and dwindling consumer demand will make market participants pay close attention to future guidance.

Analysts now expect total earnings growth for the S&P 500 for the second quarter of 5.6 percent, down from the 6.8 percent projected at the start of the quarter, per Refinitiv.

Meta Platforms Inc fell after Facebook parent CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned employees to brace for a deep economic downturn.

Shares of department store chain Kohl’s Corp plummeted after the decision to end negotiations over a possible sale to Franchise Group.

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