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Stock Market News for Nov 24, 2023

Wall Street closed higher on Wednesday on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday. Investor mood was upbeat on the release of various economic data, and all bets were on the Fed ending the rate hike cycle. All of the three major stock indexes ended in the green.

How Did the Benchmarks Perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 0.5%, or 184.74 points, to close at 35,273.03. Twenty-three components of the 30-stock index ended in positive territory, while seven ended in negative.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.5%, or 65.88 points, to close at 14,265.86.

The S&P 500 increased 18.43 points, or 0.4%, to close at 4,556.62. Ten out of the 11 broad sectors of the benchmark index closed in the green. The Communication Services Select Sector SPDR (XLC), the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) and the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) advanced 0.8%, 0.7% and 0.5%, respectively, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) declined 0.1%.

The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) decreased 4.1% to 12.80. A total of 8.6 billion shares were traded on Wednesday, lower than the last 20-session average of 10.8 billion. Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.97-to-1 ratio. On the Nasdaq, advancing issues led declining ones by 1.67-to-1.

Economic Data Keeps Investor Mood Upbeat

The Labor Department said on Wednesday that initial jobless claims fell to 209,000, decreasing 24,000 for the week ending Nov 18. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 231,000 to 233,000. The four-week moving average decreased to 220,000, marking a fall of 750 from the previous week. The prior week's average was revised up by 500 to 220,750.

Continuing claims came in at 1,840,000 for the week ending Nov 11, decreasing 22,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The prior week's numbers were revised down by 3,000 from 1,865,000 to 1,862,000. The four-week moving average was 1,836,750, an increase of 14,250 from the previous week's revised average. Last week's average was revised down by 750 from 1,823,250 to 1,822,500.

Per a government report, for the week ending Nov 17, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 8.7 million barrels from the previous week. In the prior week, they had increased by 3.6 million barrels.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that durable goods orders for October had fallen by 5.4%. For September, the number was revised down from the previously reported 4.7% to 4%.

The numbers mentioned above, especially the ones for jobless claims and durable goods orders, came in significantly low and became the cause for cheer in the market. In the previous session, the release of Fed minutes showing that further rate hikes had not been ruled out had acted as a dampener. But these numbers now have further solidified investors’ belief that the central bank would take cognizance of the fact that its policies were taking effect, and would stay away from further rate hikes.

There is a general consensus that these figures show that a recession may be avoided, even as inflation keeps coming down. Having been in the “bad news is good news” mode for some time now and buoyed by the Thanksgiving spirit, Wall Street made moderate gains in the session across sectors. Tech and Consumer Staples were the biggest gaining sectors.

Consequently, shares of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. AMD and The Kraft Heinz Company KHC advanced 2.8% and 1.6%, respectively. Kraft Heinz carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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