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US Stocks Record Modest Gains and Hit New Year Highs

US Stocks Record Modest Gains and Hit New Year Highs

Market Highlights for the Day

The American stock market experienced minimal gains on Monday. Despite this, it achieved new record highs for this year. This comes in anticipation of significant triggers this week including inflation indications and the Federal Reserve's policy decision. These factors will shape investors' outlook on interest rate trajectories.

Central Bank's Possible Interest Rate Cut

Analysts are coming to a consensus that the Central Bank has likely reached the end of its cycle of hiking interest rates. There are even speculations of a possible reduction of rates in the first half of the upcoming year. These forecasts have been instrumental in driving a recent stock market rally, pushing the three main indexes to their highest closing levels of the year.

Inflation and Job Data Affect Expectations

While markets were betting over a 50% chance on a rate drop by the Fed last week, recent data shows an uptick in job creation and a decline in the unemployment rate. Concurrently, a report indicating a fall in consumer inflation expectations lifted aspirations that inflation may sustain its downward trend without plunging the economy into a recession. This caused a softening of expectations for a rate cut in March.

Future Market Catalysts

Investors will be watching out for the slated release of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data on Tuesday. It is projected to indicate that headline inflation maintained its levels in November. This will be followed by the Producer Price Index (PPI) and the Fed's final announcement on interest rates for this year, due on Wednesday.

Market Reactions and Expectations

According to Ken Polcari, Kace Capital Advisors' managing partner, there is no need for immediate action before these events. A lukewarm CPI figure would substantiate the theory of decelerating inflation, fostering a bullish sentiment. By the close of trading on Monday, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite registered slight gains while the Dow Jones Industrial Average reported a slight increase.

Central Bank's Rate Plans

The majority of markets have already factored in the Central Bank maintaining steady rates in Wednesday's announcement. However, there are burning questions relating to the timing of the first reduction of rates.

Updates from Other Central Banks

Later this week, we anticipate policy releases from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BOE).

Other Market Winners

Semiconductor stocks saw a more than 3% surge, specifically the PHLX semiconductor index reaching its highest intraday level for the year. Cigna stocks also rose after calling off merger talks with competitor Humana and announcing a $10 billion share buyback. Meanwhile, Nike shares, bolstered by a brokerage upgrade by Citigroup, lent support to the Dow. Macy's stocks also skyrocketed following a $5.8 billion private acquisition bid by Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital.

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