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15/03/24 Briefing

US stocks rallied on Wednesday, with all three major indexes closing at record highs as a soft reading on consumer prices fueled hopes that the Federal Reserve could cut interest rates sooner than expected.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose nearly 1.2%, closing at 5,308.18, above 5,300 for the first time ever. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) jumped about 0.9%, or almost 350 points, creeping closer toward the 40,000 level. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) climbed about 1.4%, notching its second record close in as many days.

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.3% over the previous month and 3.4% over the prior year in April, a deceleration from March. "Core" inflation — which strips out the cost of food and gas — also cooled.

The relatively cool inflation reading led the 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX) to fall 4.35%, its lowest level in a month, and sparked new bets on Fed rate cuts as soon as September. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, around 70% of traders now expect at least one cut by the September meeting, a notable increase from a week ago.

Stocks have ground higher amid rekindled confidence that the US economy is in good enough shape for the Federal Reserve to start bringing down rates from their current historic highs. That optimism has fueled a resurgence in bullishness in the market.

Elsewhere on the macroeconomic front, retail sales fell flat — exactly — last month, coming in well short of Wall Street's expectations.

Meanwhile, the pace slackened in the frenzied meme stock rally that saw GameStop (GME) and AMC (AMC) prices more than double at one point on Tuesday. Both stocks dropped about 20%on Wednesday.

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