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S&P 500, Nasdaq at records despite Fed seeing fewer rate cuts in 2024

Federal Reserve Bank Chair Jerome Powell announces that interest rates will remain unchanged during a news conference at the Federal Reserves’s William McChesney Martin building (Kevin Dietsch)
Federal Reserve Bank Chair Jerome Powell announces that interest rates will remain unchanged during a news conference at the Federal Reserves’s William McChesney Martin building (Kevin Dietsch)

European and US stocks mostly rose Wednesday after data showed US inflation slowed in May, with Wall Street indices holding onto records even after the Federal Reserve projected fewer interest rate cuts in 2024.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished at records for the third straight day.

The Fed left its key lending rate unchanged and penciled in just one rate cut this year, down from the three expected in March.

The move came after inflation rated at 3.3 percent last month, down 0.1 percentage point from April, slightly below expectations.

Fed chair Jerome Powell welcomed the inflation data but added that the US central bank needs to see more "good inflation readings" before it gains sufficient confidence to consider cutting interest rates.

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Art Hogan from B Riley Wealth Management characterized the inflation report as "unambiguously good," while viewing the market's acceptance of fewer interest rate cuts as reflecting that investors are "likely willing to forgo rate cuts for better economic data."

The Nasdaq led the major US indices, winning 1.5 percent following another big gain by Apple after the tech giant unveiled new artificial intelligence offerings. Other large AI-focused companies such as Microsoft and Nvidia also gained.

Oracle jumped 13.3 percent despite mixed earnings as analysts pointed to enthusiasm over new partnerships with Open AI and Google.

Elsewhere, European markets closed sharply higher after falling earlier this week in the wake of the far-right's strong performance in the elections to the EU Parliament.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was seeking an alliance against political extremes in snap elections, adding that he aimed to keep the far right from succeeding him in 2027 when he steps down.

Macron was speaking at a rare domestic news conference three days after the far right upended his presidency and spurred him to call risky early polls by recording more than double the score of his ruling party in European elections.

Kathleen Brooks, research director at trading platform XTB, said markets were "calmed" by a commitment from Macron that he would not resign on the outcome of the election.

- Key figures around 2030 GMT -

New York - Dow Jones: DOWN 0.1 percent at 38,712.21 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.9 percent at 5,421.03 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 1.5 percent at 17,608.44 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.8 percent at 8,215.48 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.0 percent at 7,864.70 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 1.4 percent at 18,630.86 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.4 percent at 5,034.43 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 38,876.71 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.3 percent at 17,937.84 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,037.47 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0811 from $1.0741 on Tuesday

Euro/pound: UP at 84.45 pence from 84.30 pence

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2797 from $1.2740

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 156.86 yen from 157.13 yen

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.8 percent at $82.60 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.8 percent at $78.50 per barrel

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