By Johann M Cherian and Noel Randewich
(Reuters) – The S&P 500 ended higher on Wednesday after stronger-than-expected retail sales data offered evidence of resilience in the U.S. economy, but gains were capped as investors worried about more interest rate hikes by Federal Reserve in the months ahead.
A Commerce Department report showed retail sales surged 3% in January as purchases of motor vehicles and other goods pushed the number well past the 1.8% estimate from economists polled by Reuters.
On Tuesday, data showed U.S. consumer prices accelerated in January, boosting expectations that the Fed will raise the policy rate at least twice more this year to the 5-5.25% range.
“The good news from retail, and broadly from the stronger economy, has been mostly priced in,” said Ross Mayfield, an investment strategist at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky. “At the same time, that strength has taken market expectations of rate cuts off the table and moved the terminal Fed funds rate a little bit higher.”
Fueled by a rebound in growth stocks that were hammered in last year’s stock market downturn, the S&P 500 .SPX has climbed 8% so far in 2023, while the Nasdaq .IXIC has recovered 15%. A better-than-expected quarterly earnings season has provided cautious optimism.
More than half of all S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly earnings, and nearly 70% of those have topped profit expectations, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv. That compares to a long-term average of 66%.
Apple AAPL.O, Alphabet GOOGL.O, Amazon AMZN.O and Tesla TSLA.O rose between 1.4% and 2.4%, driving gains in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
The S&P 500 climbed 0.28% to end the session at 4,147.61 points.
The Nasdaq gained 0.92% to 12,070.59 points, while Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.11% to 34,128.05 points.
Nine of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes rose, led by a 1.2% gain in consumer discretionary .SPLRC.
Roblox RBLX.N soared 26% after the gaming platform popular with kids topped quarterly bookings estimates.
U.S.-listed shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) fell 5.3% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc BRKa.N slashed its stake in the chipmaker.
Shares of Airbnb Inc ABNB.O rose over 13% after the company posted forecast-beating results due to strong travel demand.
Devon Energy DVN.N slumped about 10% after the shale oil producer missed expectations for quarterly profit due to a hit to production from severe cold weather in the United States and higher expenses.
After the bell, Roku ROKU.O surged 14% following a revenue forecast that beat analysts’ expectations.
Across the U.S. stock market .AD.US, advancing stocks outnumbered falling ones by a 1.4-to-one ratio.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 84 new highs and 55 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was relatively light, with 10.5 billion shares traded, compared to an average of 11.8 billion shares over the previous 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Johann M Cherian and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru and by Noel Randewich in Oakland, Calif., additional reporting by Shristi Achar A; Editing by Savio D’Souza, Anil D’Silva and David Gregorio)