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Stock market news live updates: Dow rises for a fourth straight session, climbing 1.5% to a record closing high

Emily McCormick
·Reporter
·9 min read
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Stocks were mostly higher on Wednesday after new data showed still-muted inflationary pressures in consumer goods, helping assuage fears of a rapid jump in prices during the economic recovery. Treasury yields reversed course to dip following the report.

[Click here to read what's moving markets heading into Thursday, March 11]

The Dow jumped by more than 1.5% to reach a fresh record intraday high, with the milestone arriving just a year after the COVID-19 outbreak first sent markets into a tailspin. The Nasdaq erased earlier gains of more than 1% to close near the flat line, after the index ended Tuesday's session higher by 3.7% to post its best day since November.

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The turn higher in the Dow and S&P 500 came after the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index (CPI) on Tuesday showed core consumer prices increased less than expected in February. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, prices paid by consumers rose only 1.3% in February over last year, coming in below the 1.4% increase expected and slowing from the prior month.

The report underscored that underlying inflation trends in the economy were remaining muted even as economic activity and mobility began picking up, suggesting the Federal Reserve could in turn maintain its easy monetary policy posturing and avoid raising interest rates in the near-term to stave off fast-rising inflation.

The Dow ended only a tick above the flat line on Tuesday and rose by about the same margin as the Nasdaq on Wednesday, However, these moves belied weeks of outperformance amid a broad-based rotation into cyclical and value stocks and away from growth and technology names.

The factors setting off the rotation – namely, the quick ramp higher in Treasury yields and concerns of inflation and higher rates weighing on growth stocks especially – still remain a focal point for investors, however. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield steadied on Wednesday, but is still around 50 basis points above levels from last month.

Other strategists agreed that jitters over inflation and rising rates would likely remain a central theme for investors this year.

"There’s the irony that in year one of a market recovery everybody doubts it and says how can this be happening if the economy isn’t good, and then in year two everybody struggles to assess whether [the economy has] just gotten too good too fast and it’s too hot,” Brian Levitt, global market strategist at Invesco, told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday. “And so the last few days have been the latter story: Markets being disrupted by concerns of inflation and higher rates and premature Fed tightening. And today’s a little bit of a reprieve on that story as rates come down a bit and investors can start thinking about longer-duration assets again.”

"It’s going to be a debate all year, this idea of inflation and higher rates and Fed tightening," he added. "And that could put some challenges into the market, particularly longer-duration assets. But ultimately I wouldn’t sleep on growth stocks and I expect the structural growth companies to continue to be the long-term winners here."

4:03 p.m. ET: Dow rises for a fourth straight session, climbing 1.5% to a record closing high

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:03 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +23.32 (+0.60%) to 3,898.76

  • Dow (^DJI): +464.35 (+1.46%) to 32,297.09

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -4.99 (-0.04%) to 13,068.83

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.78 (+1.22%) to $64.79 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$6.00 (+0.35%) to $1,722.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.6 bps to yield 1.5200%

1:44 p.m. ET: Roblox shares open at $64.50 in public debut

Shares of the online video game platform Roblox (RBLX) opened for trading on the New York Stock Exchange at $64.50 apiece, marking an increase of 43% above the company's reference price of $45 per share.

Roblox went public via a direct listing, eschewing the typical initial public offering process. As a result, no shares actually traded hands at the $45 level, but rather the price was set as a reference for traders to begin the bidding process on shares. Instead of issuing new capital, companies that go public via a direct listing have existing shareholders sell their shares.

12:03 p.m. ET: GameStop becomes largest component of Russell 2000 as stock resurges

Shares of GameStop (GME) swelled more than 30% as "meme stocks" pushed higher by retail investors got another boost on Wednesday. The latest leg higher brought the share price to around $340 apiece, and brought its market cap to nearly $23 billion.

This also mean that GameStop exceeded the market capitalization of electric fuel cell maker Plug Power, according to Bloomberg data, making the retailer the largest stock in the small-cap Russell 2000 index.

11:04 a.m. ET: 'We are skeptical of a rapid and sustained acceleration in prices': Bank of America

Some strategists said they believe any pick-up in inflation during the economic recovery will be transient and ultimately benign. This perspective, echoed by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, suggests investors need not worry yet about potential price pressures later this year and a rise in rates.

"The combination of fiscal stimulus and the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine represents a powerful cocktail for robust growth in real activity that could lead to a hot economy and therefore stronger price pressures. The debate is not if there will be inflation, in our view, but whether it will be contained or troublesome," Bank of America analysts wrote in a note Tuesday. "The former will be welcomed by the Fed but the latter would prompt an early exit from super easy monetary policy, we think."

"There will be significant positive base effects through May, which will temporarily boost the [percentage year-over-year growth] rate in inflation," the analysts said. "The reopening of the economy could also lead to a considerable bounce in some of the beaten down categories such as airfares and lodging as well as strength in other categories with short-run demand and supply imbalances."

"However, we are skeptical of a rapid and sustained acceleration in prices — a true inflation regime shift," they added.

10:11 a.m. ET: Dow jumps 1% to a record intraday high

The three major indexes extended gains as inflationary fears attenuated. The Dow added more than 1%, or 300 points, to reach a record intraday high of 32,194.41 as of Wednesday morning. Gains in the index were led by Walgreens Boots Alliance, which added 3%, and Boeing, rising 2.8%.

The S&P 500's gains were led by a mix of cyclical and growth names, with energy, consumer discretionary and financial names outperforming. Consumer staples and utilities lagged, though all 11 sectors were in the green during Wednesday's session.

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher after inflation data comes in below estimates

Here's where markets were trading after the opening bell on Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +27.11 (+0.7%) to 3,902.55

  • Dow (^DJI): +170.84 (+0.54%) to 32,003.54

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +160.09 (+1.22%) to 13,235.78

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.72 (+1.12%) to $64.71 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$35.40 (+2.11%) to $1,713.40 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.4 bps to yield 1.54%

8:30 a.m. ET: Core consumer prices rose just 1.3% in February, coming in below expectations

Consumer prices increased by 0.4% month-over-month in February, accelerating from a 0.3% gain in January and rising for a ninth consecutive month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said Wednesday. The increase matched consensus expectations, based on Bloomberg-compiled data, and suggested inflationary pressures at the consumer level remained tepid at the beginning of the year.

Much of the gain in the CPI in February came from a rise in energy prices, which increased 3.9% month-over-month. Fuel oil prices in turn jumped 9.9%, as oil and other energy prices rebounded from a pandemic-induced slump in 2020. A 6.4% increase in gasoline prices accounted for more than half of the increase in the CPI, the BLS said.

Indexes tracking the prices of shelter, recreation, medical care and motor vehicle insurance each increased in February over January, while indexes for airline fare, used cars and apparel declined.

Year-over-year, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 1.7% in February, also matching expectations and marking the fastest gain since February 2020. Excluding more volatile food and energy prices, the CPI rose 1.3% year-over-year, coming in slightly below the 1.4% rise expected.

7:20 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures mixed as Nasdaq looks to fall anew

Here's where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell Wednesday morning:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,871.25, down 2 points or 0.05%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 31,881.00, up 70 points or 0.22%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,749.25, down 39.5 points or 0.31%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.24 (+0.37%) to $64.25 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$8.10 (-0.47%) to $1,708.80 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.2 bps to yield 1.556%

6:04 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures tick up

Here were the main moves in markets as of 6:04 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,877.00, up 3.75 points or 0.1%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 31,857.00, up 46 points or 0.14%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,802.00, up 13.25 points or 0.1%

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 09: The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands in lower Manhattan on March 09, 2021 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied more than 300 points Tuesday as tech stocks surged and optimism over the recently passed Covid relief bill cheered investors. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 09: The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands in lower Manhattan on March 09, 2021 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied more than 300 points Tuesday as tech stocks surged and optimism over the recently passed Covid relief bill cheered investors. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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