S&P 500 ends near flat but index posts biggest weekly gain of year

S&P 500 ends near flat but index posts biggest weekly gain of year
© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 20, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The ended near flat on Friday, but the index registered its biggest weekly percentage gain of 2024 after the Federal Reserve this week stuck with projections for three interest rate cuts by year’s end.

The Nasdaq ended slightly higher for the day, along with an index of semiconductors. The semiconductor index was also up sharply for the week amid continued optimism over artificial intelligence.

On Friday, consumer discretionary shares edged lower.

Shares of Nike (NYSE:) fell sharply after the world’s largest sportswear maker warned that revenue in the first half of fiscal 2025 would shrink by a low-single-digit percentage.

Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ:) shares fell after the company forecast annual revenue and profit below expectations.

Earlier in the week, the Fed left rates unchanged but signaled it was still on track for three rate cuts this year.

“The market took that as saying the Fed isn’t your enemy any more, and eventually it is going to be your friend,” said Matt Stucky, chief equity portfolio manager at Northwestern (NASDAQ:) Mutual Wealth Management Company.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 lost 7.35 points, or 0.14%, to end at 5,234.15 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 26.21 points, or 0.16%, to 16,428.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 309.36 points, or 0.78%, to 39,472.01.

Traders now see about a 71% chance of the first rate cut hitting in June versus 56% at the start of this week, according to the CME’s FedWatch Tool.

All three major indexes posted gains for the week.

“At some point before too long it wouldn’t be surprising to see a pullback or correction, or even a sideways trading period, after the gains we’ve had since the October lows,” said Michael Sheldon, director at RDM Financial Group at Hightower in Westport, Connecticut.

Among the day’s gainers, FedEx (NYSE:) jumped after the company beat Wall Street expectations for quarterly profit.

On the flip side, Digital World Acquisition ended sharply lower after shareholders of the blank-check firm voted to approve its merger with former U.S. President Donald Trump’s media and technology company.

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