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U.S. stocks end mixed ahead of key inflation data

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) — U.S. stocks ended mixed on Monday as investors prepared for the first key inflation update of the year and the next wave of earnings reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 125.69 points, or 0.33 percent, to 38,797.38, hitting a fresh record. The S&P 500 sank 4.77 points, or 0.09 percent, to 5,021.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 48.12 points, or 0.30 percent, to 15,942.55.

Seven of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended in green, with utilities and energy leading the gainers by going up 1.14 percent and 1.05 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, technology and real estate led the laggards by dropping 0.77 percent and 0.37 percent, respectively.

Markets have rebounded on positive fundamentals, but the delayed rate cut expectations cast a shadow. This week’s earnings and Fed speakers could provide clarity and impact investor sentiment.

The U.S. consumer price index report for January scheduled to be released on Tuesday will be center stage as investors assess the effectiveness of the Fed’s tightening measures. This will be followed by a flurry of data points later in the week, which will offer a comprehensive picture of economic activity across various sectors.

Michelle Bowman, member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, said on Monday that it is “too soon to predict” when the Fed could start cutting interest rates or how far the cuts will go. Bowman added that she does not think it is appropriate to begin cuts in the “immediate future.”

U.S. consumers’ median inflation expectations at the three-year ahead horizon declined to 2.4 percent in January from 2.6 percent in the previous month while median inflation expectations at the one- and five-year ahead horizons remained unchanged in the period, according to a report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Monday.

Stocks have been climbing thanks to positive earnings surprises, especially from large technology companies. Chipmakers continued their ascent on Monday, with Nvidia hitting another record high before settling slightly lower. Arm, the British semiconductor designer, also soared to a new peak, extending its impressive rally.

Investors eagerly await further reports, with key announcements from John Deere, Coca-Cola, Airbnb, and Kraft Heinz expected soon.

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