U.S. Stocks Rise… Consumer Spending Rose In February And March, While Inflation Remained Muted

STOCK MARKET NEWS TODAY

— U.S. stocks edged higher Monday after data suggested the U.S. economy was on solid footing in the first three months of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 10 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26553 shortly after the opening bell. The S&P 500 added 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.1%.

Major indexes have gotten a lift in recent days as data have shown the economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter, despite encountering headwinds like a partial government shutdown and slowing global growth. Reports Monday showed consumer spending rose in both February and March, while a key measure of inflation remained muted.

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Investors will get further sense of how the economic outlook is shaping up in the coming days, with a Federal Reserve policy statement, monthly employment report and more corporate earnings on tap. Shares of Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons, slid 2.9% after the company posted worse-than-expected earnings.

Walt Disney shares jumped 1.3% after “Avengers: Endgame” became the first movie to gross more than $1 billion in its world-wide box-office debut. Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 hovered around the flatline, weighed down by losses in France and Spain.

Spain’s IBEX 35 index lost 0.5% after general elections on Sunday produced no clear winner. The center-left Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez finished first, but will have to build an unwieldy coalition to form a governing majority.

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In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1%. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average was closed for a public holiday. Trading in the bond and currency markets was subdued Monday.

The WSJ Dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of 16 of its peers, added less than 0.1% after finishing at its third-highest level of the year Friday. Government bonds weakened, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note last at 2.527%, compared with 2.506% Friday. Yields rise as bond prices fall.

Traders are widely expecting the Fed to leave short-term interest rates unchanged at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting Wednesday. Some believe the central bank will have to lower rates before year-end because inflation has been so slow to pick up.

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“We are pricing in one rate cut before the end of the year,” said Zhiwei Ren, managing director and portfolio manager at Penn Mutual Asset Management. “We’ve never seen this kind of divergence between how good the economy is and how worried the Fed is” about the possibility of slipping into a deflationary mind-set, Mr. Ren said, citing Japan as an example.



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