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Nasdaq Closes at Record High

The Nasdaq Composite closed at a record high Thursday for the first time since 2021.

The tech-heavy index rose 0.9%, snapping a streak of 569 trading days without a new high. The S&P 500 advanced 0.5%, also setting a fresh record, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1%, or 45 points.

January and February marked the best two months to start a year for the Dow and S&P 500 since 2019. The Nasdaq has gained 7.2% so far this year.

Fresh economic data Thursday did little to change the widespread belief that policymakers can cool inflation without provoking an economic slowdown. The personal-consumption expenditures price index rose 0.3% last month from December, in line with economists’ expectations.

Traders in interest-rate derivatives are now pricing in a 21% chance that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at its May policy meeting, up slightly from about 19% before Thursday’s inflation data, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

A slew of data portraying a strong economy and labor market to start the year has prompted investors to dial back forecasts of as many as six cuts. But most still expect the central bank to lower them this year, which likely would benefit risky assets such as stocks.

“The Fed and almost every other central bank in the world are still going to cut rates,” said Jay Hatfield, CEO of Infrastructure Capital Advisors. “Do you want to be long the index, or short?”

Inflation in Germany fell for a second straight month in February.

U.S. bond yields fell as prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield settled at 4.251%, from 4.273% on Wednesday.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil prices fell 0.4%, settling at $78.26 per barrel.

While stocks have been on cruise control to start the year, the rally hasn’t erased all investor doubts.

“It is still concerning to me how narrow the market is” with respect to earnings growth, said Julie Biel, chief market strategist at Kayne Anderson Rudnick. “When you listen to conference calls this quarter, people are hesitant to give robust guidance.”

With the fourth-quarter earnings season nearly complete, S&P 500 members have reported an aggregate 3.9% growth in profits, with much of that boost coming from just a handful of companies. The index trades at 20.5 times forward earnings projections, according to FactSet, up from 19.6 times at the start of the year.

In individual stocks, Hormel Foods rose 14% after earnings topped Wall Street expectations. Advanced Micro Devices 9.1%, crossing a $300 billion market value for the first time on record. Chemours stock fell 31% after the chemical maker placed top executives on leave and delayed its audited financial filings.

Bitcoin rose 2.9% to $62,073.

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