Wall Street rises as chipmakers lead tech shares higher
Investors are eyeing results from Microsoft Corp, Tesla Inc, IBM and Intel this week to see how their business are coping with the threat of an economic slowdown triggered by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive policy tightening.
Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes were up in early trading, with a 1.3% rise in tech stocks making them the biggest gainers.
Qualcomm Inc and Advanced Micro Devices Inc climbed 4.5% and 7%, respectively, after Barclays upgraded their stocks to “overweight” from “equal-weight”.
Western Digital Corp jumped 6% on a report that the memory chipmaker could merge with Japan’s Kioxia Holdings.
Those gains helped the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index add 2.9% and hit a one-month high.
“All those names and sectors (chipmakers) in general just got beat up much more than the market in general overall. So now in a lot of those names, there’s value,” said Jimmy Lee, chief executive officer of Wealth Consulting Group.
“It was a tough year for technology investors. So you’re starting to see investors going back into some of those names. But instead of across the board, they’ll be buying the names that have a chance to do good this year, even in a choppy economic environment.”
Analysts now expect fourth-quarter earnings from S&P 500 companies to fall 2.9%, according to IBES Refinitiv data, compared with a 1.6% drop at the beginning of the year.
Investors are also awaiting January manufacturing and fourth-quarter GDP data to assess the impact of the Fed’s rate hikes on the economy.
Although recent data has signaled cooling inflation, a tight labor market may keep the central bank on its aggressive policy tightening path until rates rise over 5%, a level backed by most policymakers.
At 10:04 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 76.08 points, or 0.23%, at 33,451.57, the S&P 500 was up 23.24 points, or 0.59%, at 3,995.85 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 117.16 points, or 1.05%, at 11,257.59.
Cloud-based software firm Salesforce Inc rose 2.0% to lead gains among Dow components after activist investor Elliott Management Corp made a multi-billion-dollar investment in the company, according to people familiar with the matter.
Baker Hughes Co slid 1.1% on missing fourth-quarter profit estimates, hit by component shortages and supply chain disruptions.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.05-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.60-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded two new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 35 new highs and six new lows.
Markets have started 2023 on a strong footing on hopes that a moderation in inflationary pressures and some signs of cooling in the labor market could give the Fed cover to dial down the size of its interest rate hikes.
Money market participants are currently expecting a 25-basis point interest rate hike from the Fed in February and see rates peaking at 4.94% in June.
U.S.-listed stocks of Chinese companies such as JD.Com Inc, Baidu Inc and Bilibili Inc fell between 4.9% and 6.4% after China’s economic growth in 2022 slumped to one of its worst levels in nearly half a century.
“I think it’s a combination of some minor profit taking after a very strong rally last week and the news out of China,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
At 9:42 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 147.35 points, or 0.43%, at 34,155.26, the S&P 500 was down 2.24 points, or 0.06%, at 3,996.85, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 24.64 points, or 0.22%, at 11,054.51.
Insurer Travelers Cos Inc fell 3%, among other drags on the Dow, after forecasting fourth-quarter earnings below estimates.