The S&P 500 saw an approximately 1% increase, while the NASDAQ surged by nearly 2% on Thursday, surpassing its previous record high set in November 2021. So far this year, both indexes have recorded positive results in seven out of nine weeks.

In February, the S&P 500 reached new record levels eight times, recording a 5.2% overall increase and extending its streak of positive performance to four consecutive months. Over this period, the index’s cumulative gain amounted to 21.5%. All 11 sectors experienced growth last month, with communication services leading the pack.

During the recently concluded fourth-quarter earnings season, companies in the S&P 500 reported an average earnings increase of 4.0% compared to the same quarter a year earlier, according to FactSet data. This marked the second consecutive year-over-year earnings rise following a 4.7% increase in the third quarter. Communication services showed remarkable strength with a 45.0% gain, leading the sector for the second consecutive quarter.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge revealed a continued but slower increase in consumer prices. In January, the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index registered a 2.8% annual rate, excluding volatile food and energy prices. This matched the expectations of most economists and marked the slowest rise since March 2021.

U.S. crude oil prices surged past $80 per barrel on Friday, reaching their highest level in approximately four months. The weekly increase exceeded 4% amid concerns that a coalition of oil-producing nations might prolong recent production cuts.

Inflation eased across the 20 countries using the euro as their currency, with the eurozone’s annual inflation rate declining to 2.6% in February from 2.8% in the previous month. Core inflation, excluding volatile food and energy categories, also dropped to 3.1% from 3.3%.

A monthly labor market report set to be released on Friday will indicate whether the trend of better-than-expected job numbers continued into February. In January, the economy added 353,000 new jobs, double the number anticipated by most economists, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%.

Major U.S. Economic Reports

New home salesJan.661,000651,000
Durable-goods ordersJan.-6.1%-0.3%
Durable-goods minus transportationJan.-0.3%-0.1%
S&P Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities)Dec.6.1%5.4%%
Consumer confidenceFeb.106.7110.9
GDP (first revision)Q43.2%3.3%
Advanced U.S. trade balance in goodsJan.$90.2B$87.9B
Advanced retail inventoriesJan.0.5%0.6%
Advanced wholesale inventoriesJan.-0.1%0.4%
Initial jobless claimsFeb. 24215,000202,000
Personal incomeJan.1.0%0.3%
Personal spendingJan.0.2%0.7%
PCE indexJan.0.3%0.1%
Core PCE indexJan.0.4%0.1%
PCE (year-over-year)2.4%2.6%
Core PCE (year-over-year)2.8%2.9%
Chicago Business Barometer (PMI)Feb.44.046.0
Pending home salesJan.-4.9%8.3%
S&P U.S. manufacturing PMI (final)Feb.52.251.5
ISM manufacturingFeb.47.8%49.1%
Construction spendingJan.-0.2%1.1%
Consumer sentiment (final)Feb.76.979.6
U.S. car salesFeb.15 million

Closing Prices for the Week

Dow Jones Industrials Average39,087.38
Nasdaq Composite16,274.94
S&P 500 Index5,137.08
CBOE Volatility Index13.11
S&P GSCI564.66
U.S. Dollar Index103.861
10-Year T-Note (Jun ’24)111-010
Crude Oil WTI (Apr ’24)79.97
Natural Gas (Apr ’24)1.835
Gold (Apr ’24)2,095.7
Silver (May ’24)23.364
Corn (May ’24)424-6
Wheat (May ’24)557-6
Soybean (May ’24)1151-2
Coffee (May ’24)183.30
Sugar #11 (May ’24)21.09

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