Nasdaq leads Wall St higher as Microsoft hits record high By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 27, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Amruta Khandekar and Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) – The Nasdaq led gains among the main U.S. stock indexes on Monday as Microsoft (NASDAQ:) climbed on news that ousted OpenAI head Sam Altman will join the software giant, while investors awaited more clues on when the Federal Reserve might begin cutting interest rates.

Microsoft’s shares touched an all-time high and were last up 1.6% after CEO Satya Nadella said Altman is set to join the company to lead a new advanced AI research team.

The information technology sub-index housing the stock was the top sectoral gainer, up 0.9%.

Most other megacap stocks, including Nvidia (NASDAQ:) and Apple (NASDAQ:), also edged higher.

Wall Street’s main indexes have staged a stellar rebound in November, posting gains for the third week in a row on Friday as evidence of easing U.S. inflation supported bets that the Fed was done raising interest rates.

The benchmark S&P 500 is now less than 2% away from its highest level this year reached in July.

“This is traditionally a very light week. There’s really not much in the way of economic news and I don’t think we could see much of a change between now and the end of the year,” said Joe Saluzzi, partner and co-founder at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

“The Fed seems to be done. Everyone’s predicting all the economic numbers that we saw last week will certainly support the thesis (that) they don’t need to raise (rates) any more.”

Traders have nearly fully priced in the likelihood that the Fed will keep interest rates unchanged in December, and have started pricing in rate cuts as soon as March, according to the CME Group’s (NASDAQ:) FedWatch tool.

A number of catalysts will set the tone for equities this week, with thin trading volumes ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday also affecting market moves.

Chip designer Nvidia is due to report quarterly results on Tuesday, wrapping up the third-quarter earnings season for the “Magnificent Seven” group of megacap companies.

The Fed is expected to issue minutes of its November meeting on Tuesday, which will be parsed for clues on the direction of U.S. interest rates. Black Friday sales will provide a gauge on the state of U.S. consumer spending.

At 11:37 a.m. ET, the was up 104.08 points, or 0.30%, at 35,051.36, the S&P 500 was up 19.87 points, or 0.44%, at 4,533.89, and the was up 107.39 points, or 0.76%, at 14,232.87.

Among other movers, Bristol Myers (NYSE:) Squibb fell 2.4% as Germany’s Bayer (OTC:) on Sunday stopped a late-stage trial testing a new anti-clotting drug, hurting investor confidence in all firms developing similar class of drugs.

Boeing (NYSE:) added 3.9% as Deutsche Bank upgraded the aerospace company to “buy” from “hold” and raised its price target to $270 from $204.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.84-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.59-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 52 new highs and 59 new lows.

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