S&P, Dow end slightly up, extend closing streaks despite Disney drag

Fed rate announcement at the NYSE in New York

By David French

(Reuters) -The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both clung onto gains to ended slightly higher on Tuesday, extending recent winning streaks fueled by renewed expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this year.

The advances pushed the S&P 500 to a fourth straight higher close, and its best winning run since March. For the Dow, it is now on its longest positive run since December 2023, gaining for the fifth session in a row.

The benchmark performances came despite Walt Disney slumping 9.5%, its biggest percentage fall since November 2022, as a surprise profit in its streaming entertainment division was eclipsed by a drop in its traditional TV business and weaker box office.

Despite Disney's drag, markets have been generally buoyed by a weaker-than-expected labor market report last week, which fueled bets that the U.S. central bank will cut rates.

The Nasdaq Composite has also benefited, but it slipped lower in afternoon trade on Tuesday and closed slightly lower, snapping its own winning run at three.

"I think the market is in this little holding pattern until the big data comes next week," said Garrett Melson, portfolio strategist at Natixis Investment Manager Solutions, referring to the Producer Price Index (PPI) due on May 14, and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) scheduled for May 15.

Generally, the Fed and policymakers have been consistent in their message in recent weeks that rate cuts will come but the central bank is going to be cautious in implementing them.

This meant, on a day lacking major data announcements, markets shrugged off comments from Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari that the Fed may need to hold rates steady for the remainder of the year due to stalled inflation and housing market strength.

Overall, Friday's payrolls data and better-than-expected earnings reports have helped soothe investor jitters around sticky inflation and a robust economy that have kept the rates elevated.

Traders are anticipating rate cuts of 46 basis points (bps) from the Fed by the end of 2024, according to LSEG's interest rate probabilities app, with the first pivot to rate cut seen in September and another in December. They were expecting only one cut before the labor report last week.

"The market is far more hypersensitive to the data than the Fed is," said Natixis' Melson, adding that "the bar for the Fed to abandon the easing bias is extremely high."

The S&P 500 gained 6.96 points, or 0.13%, to 5,187.70 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 16.69 points, or 0.10%, to 16,332.56. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 31.99 points, or 0.08%, to 38,884.26.

Megacap stocks Alphabet and Meta Platforms rose 1.9% and 0.6%, respectively, boosting the main indexes.

Nvidia fell 1.7% after the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was developing its own chip to run artificial intelligence (AI) software in data centers.

Apple gained 0.4% as it introduced a new chip called the M4, but put the new chip in an iPad Pro model rather than a laptop.

Tesla fell 3.8% after data showed the U.S. automaker sold 62,167 China-made electric vehicles in April, down 18% from a year earlier.

Palantir Technologies tumbled 15.1%, its sharpest one-day decline since May 2022, after the data analytics firm's annual revenue forecast fell short of analysts' estimates.

The S&P 500 posted 49 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 155 new highs and 69 new lows.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru and David French in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Aurora Ellis)