Stocks rally, positioning Wall Street to end week on high note

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U.S. stocks soared Friday, with Wall Street well on its way to ending the week in positive terrain after a tumultuous run.

At midday, the S&P 500 was up 2.4 percent, on track to break a three-week losing streak. The Dow Jones industrial average had surged more than 650 points, or 2.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq added nearly 2.4 percent.

The turnaround comes after the Federal Reserve has moved aggressively to raise interest rates and teed up further increases, signaling the central bank is serious about bringing down surging inflation that is weighing on businesses and consumers.

“Even though the market has started to recover, the concerns that caused the bear market are still with us, such as inflation, an aggressive Federal Reserve, high oil prices and geopolitical tensions,” Zach Stein, chief investment officer in Carbon Collective, said in a commentary Friday.

Oil prices rose Friday as supply continued to tighten. Brent crude, the international benchmark, jumped more than 1.2 percent to roughly $111 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude, the main U.S. benchmark, climbed more than 1.3 percent to $105 per barrel. Still, that’s a significant pullback since last week, when both were hovering near $120.

“Oil prices typically decline during recessions and the oil market is pricing in rising recession risk,” Stein said.

Pump prices also fell, with the national average settling at $4.93 a gallon on Friday, according to AAA. Last week, the average breached $5 for the first time.

The markets experienced a measure of stability this week, with the S &P 500 ahead 3.3 percent heading into Friday’s session. The Dow is up 2.6 percent and the Nasdaq 4 percent.

This week’s relief came despite growing pessimism about the state of the economy, particularly soaring prices and rising interest rates. In his two days of congressional testimony, Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell reiterated the central bank’s commitment to curbing soaring inflation with aggressive monetary policy, even in the face of a possible recession.

Inflation continued to be of top concern to consumers, as prices of essential goods like gas continued to rise. A University of Michigan survey found that the consumer sentiment index fell to 50 in June, compared with May’s level of 58.4 and 85.5 a year ago. Rising inflation eroded living standards for consumers even when they expected a steady income flow. Many expressed concerns over deteriorating business conditions and overall economic uncertainty.

As a result, they shifted away from services such as restaurants and tourism. “As higher prices become harder to avoid, consumers may feel they have no choice but to adjust their spending patterns, whether through substitution of goods or foregoing purchases altogether. The speed and intensity at which these adjustments occur will be critical for the trajectory of the economy,” wrote Joanne Hsu, director of the surveys.

Unemployment also exceeded economists’ expectations. Initial jobless claims reached 229,000 last week per Department of Labor’s data released Thursday, 4,000 more than the consensus estimate, according to Charles Schwab’s derivative trading manager Robert Abraham.

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