U.S. stocks climb as investors assimilate economic data and brace for a flurry of corporate earnings

  • Major Wall Street benchmarks rose on Thursday, on track to extend a winning streak.
  • December headline inflation showed signs of slowing with a reading of 0.2%.
  • Federal Reserve officials have escalated messages about raising interest rates a few times this year.

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, on track to extend a winning streak as investors weighed labor market and inflation data while bracing for the steady stream of corporate earnings that will begin this week.

All three major Wall Street benchmarks were heading for a third straight win, remaining in recovery mode after a sell-off was triggered by the prospect of the Federal Reserve accelerating the withdrawal of stimulus this year.

Pre-bell equity futures stretched gains slightly after the Labor Department said wholesale prices rose 0.2% in December, less than the expected rise of 0.4%, suggesting a slight slowdown in inflation. But the producer price index was at 9.7% for 2021, the highest level since 2010.

Weekly jobless claims, on the other hand, unexpectedly jumped from 23,000 to 230,000, remaining at a pre-pandemic low, but it was the highest amount since mid-November.

Here’s where the U.S. indices were shortly after the 9:30 a.m. open on Thursday:

Investors are gearing up for the start of the fourth quarter earnings season. Delta Airlines posted an earnings beat on Thursday, while banks such as JP Morgan and Citi will report results on Friday. Investors are also digesting messages from the Federal Reserve that it is embarking on a rapid pace of interest rate hikes to combat runaway inflation.

Federal Reserve Chairs of San Francisco and Philadelphia, Mary Daly and Patrick Harker, respectively, said separately that they expect interest rate hikes to begin as early as March.

Lael Brainard, who was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as the next Federal Reserve Vice Chairman, said in prepared remarks that “the most important task” for the central bank is to curb inflation. Brainard will appear before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday as part of its confirmation hearing.

Around the market, Wharton professor Jeremy Siegel sees the S&P 500 rising 9% in 2022.

Meme coins are leading the crypto revival, with the shiba inu coin jumping 12%.

Oil prices fell from a two-month high. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.5% to $82.25 a barrel. Brent, the international benchmark, fell 0.3% to $84.40.

Gold fell 0.3% to $1,821.30 an ounce. The 10-year rate lost less than 1 basis point, to 1.741%.

Bitcoin lost 0.5% to trade at $43,724.90.

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