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10/07/24 Briefing

US stocks again soared to fresh all-time highs on Wednesday as Jerome Powell's remarks on Capitol Hill buoyed rate-cut hopes and Big Tech stocks piled on the gains.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 1% for a 37th record close this year, breaching 5,600 for the first time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) jumped 1.1%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) gained 1.2%. The S&P and Nasdaq were each higher for the seventh straight session.

Tech's biggest names continued to rise, powering the gains of the broader market. The AI darling Nvidia (NVDA) advanced more than 2%, while Apple, (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) each gained more than 1%.

Bets on interest rate cuts have helped keep stocks roaring as signs of slowing in the US economy pile up.

Wall Street also looked to Washington for more optimism. In his semiannual testimony to Congress, Powell hinted the stage is almost set for lowering interest rates from two-decade highs, pointing to a cooling in inflation and in the jobs market. He also cautioned that keeping rates elevated for too long could weaken the economy, giving hope to rate-cut-hungry investors.

But a key test for stocks and rate-easing prospects lies ahead in the crucial consumer inflation report due Thursday. While a cooler reading will cement the likelihood of a Fed policy shift in September, a too-cool print could revive concerns about a recession and the labor market.

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