Stocks ticked higher Thursday, building on their winning week as Wall Street sifts through a deluge of news about the economy, interest rates, and corporate profits, per the AP. The Dow rose 162 points to 32,036, the S&P 500 rose 39 points to 3,999, and the Nasdaq rose 161 points to 12,059. Much of Wall Street's focus was on Europe, where a yearslong experiment with negative interest rates came to a close. In the United States, reports suggested the economy is slowing more than expected, while a better-than-expected profit report from Tesla headlined a mixed set from the nation's biggest companies.
At the center of this year’s sell-off for financial markets has been the world’s punishingly high inflation, and the moves made by central banks to squash it. On Thursday, the European Central Bank surprised markets when it raised interest rates by more than expected, its first increase in 11 years. As with the US Federal Reserve, which is set to raise rates next week for a fourth time this year, the hope is that higher rates will slow the economy enough to beat back high inflation. The risk is that higher rates push down on investment prices, and too-aggressive hikes could cause a recession.
In the US, some areas of the economy have already begun to soften. The highest number of workers filed for unemployment benefits last week in eight months, though it remains low compared with history. A separate report released Thursday showed manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region weakened by significantly more than expected. The discouraging data helped pull Treasury yields lower and could steer the Federal Reserve toward less aggressive hikes. That in turn could help support stocks. Tesla, meanwhile, climbed 10% after the electric-vehicle maker reported results for the spring that were better than analysts expected. It was the biggest single force pulling the S&P 500 higher.
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