By ALEX VEIGA
A late wave of buying sent stocks to solid gains on Wall Street on Friday, sending the S&P 500 to another record high. The benchmark index rose 1% and ended its best week since February. Tech stocks drove much of the gain. Enterprise software maker Oracle rose 15.6% after reporting strong results in its latest quarter. The gains came after the government reported another big spike in inflation last month, but markets were relieved to see that the report was in line with expectations. Consumer prices rose 6.8% in November compared to the previous year, the most in four decades.
THIS IS A LAST MINUTE UPDATE. The previous AP story follows below.
Stocks rose on Wall Street on Friday after a streak of choppy early trading in the wake of the government’s latest reading on consumer prices, which shows inflation is at a four-decade high.
The S&P 500 was up 0.6% at 2:35 pm ET. The benchmark, coming off its first loss in four days, is on track for its biggest weekly gain since February.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 123 points, or 0.3%, to 35,877, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.3%. Both indices ranged from small gains to losses in morning trading. The Russell 2000 index of small business stocks was down 0.5%.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said prices for American consumers increased 6.8% in November compared to the previous year. Rising costs for food, energy, housing and other items have left Americans suffering their highest annual inflation rate since 1982. Basic prices, which exclude food and energy, increased 4.9% year-on-year .
Those figures were in line with market expectations.
“Many have felt the effects of inflation in their day-to-day lives, so this is probably not a huge surprise to the market,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade.
The latest inflation data comes ahead of the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting of policymakers next week. Rising inflation has prompted the central bank to accelerate the pace at which it cuts its bond purchases, helping to keep interest rates low.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell suggested that the central bank could act more quickly to reduce, or decrease, the number of bonds it has been buying each month to keep long-term interest rates low.
Analysts say soaring inflation figures increase pressure on the Fed to follow up on Powell’s comments. Many investors also expect the Fed to start raising interest rates from the current ultra-low levels starting in the middle of next year.
“The footprint of inflation this morning will reinforce the Fed’s determination to accelerate tapering. With the economic recovery strong, it is time to take off the crutches, “said Anu Gaggar, global investment strategist at Commonwealth Financial Network.
Aside from a slide on Thursday, stocks have rebounded this week after two weeks of volatile trading that left the S&P 500 with consecutive weekly losses. The index has now recovered most of the losses after the discovery of the omicron variant of COVID-19 was announced last month. It’s now up 25% for the year and is close to the all-time high set on November 18.
Investor concerns about omicron eased this week amid encouraging signs that the variant may be less dangerous than the delta. Pfizer said this week that its laboratory tests suggest that the drugmaker’s COVID-19 enhancers provide protection against the new strain.
More than 60% of the S&P 500 shares rose. Solid gains in tech stocks outweighed losses elsewhere in the market. Enterprise software maker Oracle was up 16.2% for the biggest gain on the S&P 500 after reporting strong quarterly results. Microsoft was up 2.2%.
Manufacturers and sellers of home goods also helped lift the S&P 500. Costco was up 6.8%, while Coca-Cola was up 2.2%.
Energy futures were mostly up. The price of US crude rose 1%. That helped give a modest boost to energy stocks on the S&P 500. Devon Energy was up 1.3%.
Communication services and financial stocks lagged behind the market. Facebook’s parent Meta Platforms fell 1%, while Citigroup fell 2.8%.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.48% from 1.51% just before the inflation report came out. The yield on the two-year note fell to 0.66%.