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US STOCKS-Wall Street shrugs off inflation jump to move higher

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·3 min read
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(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Salesforce jumps after raising outlook

* Boeing down on reports of 787 Dreamliner delivery halt

* S&P on pace for smallest monthly gain in four

* Dow up 0.35%, S&P 500 up 0.31%, Nasdaq up 0.45% (Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, May 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Friday as investors brushed off a stronger-than-expected inflation reading, putting both the Dow and S&P indexes on track to post their first weekly gain in the past three weeks.

Consumer prices as measured by the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, excluding the volatile food and energy components, rose 0.7% in April, topping analysts' 0.6% estimate and after a 0.4% increase in March. PCE is the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation.

In the 12 months through April, the core PCE price index surged 3.1%, smashing through the Fed's 2% target, as the reopening economy unleashed pent-up demand.

Investors have been closely watching economic data and comments from Fed officials for signs of runaway inflation and the possibility the central bank may begin to pull back on its massive stimulus measures.

"There is a really good excuse for market participants not to hang on to any one data point, any one reading as to a real true indicator of direction of inflation, as well as just any type of general economic activity," said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at Globalt in Atlanta.

"The Fed has already started this course of introducing the market to thinking about some of the accommodative measures."

"The data is going to remain volatile as well, the inflation data that we saw this morning with core PCE was a high print, but really not that far ahead of consensus," he added.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 120.79 points, or 0.35%, to 34,585.43, the S&P 500 gained 13.23 points, or 0.31%, at 4,214.11 and the Nasdaq Composite added 61.48 points, or 0.45%, at 13,797.76.

Fed officials have repeatedly maintained in recent days that the central bank is not ready to adjust its monetary support, although some have suggested they are open to begin discussing scaling back its bond-buying plan. On Thursday, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan said the labor market was tighter than many realize.

Despite the data showing a rise in inflation, U.S. Treasury yields fell and helped lift high-growth technology stocks. Salesforce.com Inc climbed 5.97% after raising its full-year revenue and profit forecasts, helped by increased demand for its cloud-based software during the pandemic.

Inflation worries have persisted in the stock market for several weeks. Volatility has risen even as the S&P 500 has rebounded to less than 1% below its May 7 record high, though the index was poised for its smallest monthly gain in the past four.

The U.S. stock market will be closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. Analysts cautioned against drawing strong conclusions from Friday's lightly traded market.

Boeing Co fell 1.26% after the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the planemaker halted deliveries of its 787 Dreamliners, adding fresh delays for customers following a recent five-month delivery suspension due to production problems.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.59-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.24-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 95 new highs and 17 new lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Richard Chang)