Wall Street closed out a mostly listless week Friday with a wobbly day of trading that helped nudge the S&P 500 to its third straight weekly gain.
The benchmark index edged up 0.2% after spending much of the day in the red. The small uptick was enough to lift the S&P 500 to an all-time high for the second day in a row.
Technology companies and banks accounted for much of the upward move. The gains were offset by a broad slide in health care, energy and real estate stocks. Bond yields were mixed.
With the exception of select “meme” stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment hyped by individual investors in online forums, the broader market was relatively quiet this week. Investors remain in wait-and-see mode ahead of the Federal Reserve's upcoming meeting of policymakers Wednesday.
Wall Street is keen for clues about how much of a threat the central bank deems rising inflation as the economy emerges from its pandemic-induced recession, and whether the Fed has begun considering beginning to taper its support for the economy.
“No one is suggesting that it will be at this meeting, but the market is poised for the Fed to at least even tangentially suggest that they’re discussing" tapering, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.
The S&P 500 rose 8.26 points to 4,247.44. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 13.36 points, or less than 0.1%, to 34,479.60. The Nasdaq gained 49.09 points, or 0.4%, to 14,069.42. The tech-heavy index also notched a weekly gain.
Investors bid up shares in smaller company stocks. The Russell 2000 index picked up 24.40 points, or 1.1%, to 2,335.81. The index is up 18.3% this year, outgaining the S&P 500's advance of 13.1% and the Nasdaq's 9.2% gain.
Among the winning technology and financial stocks were chipmaker Nvidia, which rose 2.3%, and Wells Fargo, which gained 1.3%. Several retailers also rose. V.F. Corp., maker of Vans shoes and other apparel, climbed 4.7% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500, while Gap rose 3.2% and L Brands gained 2.3%.
Traders dumped shares in several health care companies after they issued disappointing development updates. Vertex Pharmaceuticals dropped 11% after telling investors it will end development of a potential treatment for a genetic condition that targets the liver. Incyte fell 5.7% as its potential eczema cream ruxolitinib faces a delayed regulatory review. The two stocks topped the list of decliners in the S&P 500.
Investors were relieved to see Thursday that a much-anticipated report showed that a big rise in consumer-level inflation last month was mostly attributed to temporary factors. That could mean less pressure on the Fed to pull back on its measures supporting the economy.
“You kind of have this notion that worries about inflation from the investor base might have peaked,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategist at Baird.
A significant share of May’s rise in consumer prices was tied to the sale of used cars, which is largely attributed to purchases by rental car companies beefing up their fleets as people return to traveling.
Bond yields were mixed Friday, though the yield on the closely watched 10-year Treasury note was trading at 1.46%, down from 1.57% a week ago. Yields have been mostly headed lower this week despite reports showing more strength in the economy and possible signs of inflation.