Wall Street scores first weekly gain since mid-August

·3 min read

By Carolina Mandl

(Reuters) - U.S. stocks rallied on Friday, with the major indexes recording their first weekly gain in four weeks as investors went on a buying spree, shrugging off concerns about the economic outlook.

The gains followed a sharp sell-off that began in mid-August, triggered by concerns about the impact of tighter monetary policies and signs of an economic slowdown in Europe and China.

Analysts said this week's market recovery was more related to previous overselling as uncertainty remained high about inflation and the Federal Reserve's aggressiveness in interest rate hikes.

"It's not surprising we get a little bit of a bounce like we're getting here, as a lot of this is technical," said Jack Janasiewicz, lead portfolio strategist and portfolio manager at Natixis Investment Managers Solutions.

"I wouldn't be shocked if we started the week off with a little bit more strength and then we sort of settle down and give back a little bit as we get ready for the CPI," he added, looking ahead to next week.

Investors awaited August's consumer prices (CPI) report on Tuesday for any signs that inflation may be easing. It is expected to show that prices rose at an 8.1% pace over the year in August, compared with 8.5% in July.

Wells Fargo economists expect headline inflation to log its steepest monthly decline since the peak of the pandemic in April 2020, helped by a pullback in gas prices.

All 11 major S&P sectors traded higher on Friday, with communication services, technology, energy and consumer discretionary leading the way.

Hammered since the beginning of the year over concerns about higher interest rates, high-growth stocks rose in the week.

Investors are jittery about the prospects of another outsized interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve. On Friday, Fed Governor Christopher Waller said the Fed should be aggressive with rate hikes while the economy "can take a punch," while Kansas City Fed President Esther George said taming inflation could be a tough task.

Both remarks come after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Thursday that the U.S. central bank is "strongly committed" to controlling inflation.

Traders are pricing in a 90% chance of a 75 basis point rate hike at the next meeting, up from 57% a week earlier, according to CME Group's Fedwatch Tool https://www.cmegroup.com/trading/interest-rates/countdown-to-fomc.html?redirect=/trading/interest-rates/fed-funds.html.

The CBOE volatility index, a gauge of investor anxiety, closed to a two-week low of 22.79 but stayed above its long-term average of about 20.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 377.19 points, or 1.19%, to 32,151.71, the S&P 500 gained 61.18 points, or 1.53%, to 4,067.36 and the Nasdaq Composite added 250.18 points, or 2.11%, to 12,112.31.

For the week, the Dow advanced 2.7%, the S&P 500 climbed 3.6% and the Nasdaq gained 4.1%.

U.S. equity funds recorded outflows of $11.5 billion in the week to Wednesday, their largest outflow in 11 weeks, Bank of America Merrill said on Friday.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.91 billion shares, compared with the 10.24 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Kroger Co jumped 7.4% after the grocer raised its annual forecast.

Shares of Tapestry Inc rose 2.7% after the luxury handbag maker said it expects revenue of $8 billion by fiscal year 2025.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 5.14-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.58-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted seven new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 47 new highs and 63 new lows.

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl, additional reporting by Amruta Khandekar and Ankika Biswas in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Maju Samuel and Cynthia Osterman)