Dow closes more than 570 points higher to post best day in 2024, stocks wrap a winning May

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped Friday for its best session of the year, as investors wrapped up a strong month after the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure came in largely around expectations.

The blue-chip Dow climbed 574.84 points, or 1.51%, to 38,686.32, lifted by Salesforce and UnitedHealth’s respective advances of 7.5% and 2.8%. The S&P 500 added 0.80% to 5,277.51. The Nasdaq Composite ticked lower by 0.01% to 16,735.02, as Nvidia and a few other megacap technology stocks took a hit.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq snapped five-week win streaks with slides of 0.51% and 1.1%, respectively. The blue-chip Dow slipped 0.98%, marking a second straight week of losses.

Despite the tough week, it was a winning May, with each of the major benchmarks registering a sixth positive month in seven. The Dow added 2.3% this month, while the S&P 500 rose 4.8%. The Nasdaq gained 6.88%, notching its best month going back to November.

“The market is going to remain choppy,” said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial, citing variables such as the upcoming election, Treasury yields and consumer spending. “There are questions as to: Where are we headed? Where’s the economy headed?”

A chunk of May’s strength can be attributed to a surge in Nvidia, which released blockbuster earnings last week. Though the artificial intelligence darling’s stock fell about 0.8% on Friday, shares ended the month nearly 27% higher. Tesla and Netflix also pulled back on Friday, hurting the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the session.

Closely followed economic data released Friday morning came mostly in line with forecasts. The core personal consumption expenditures price index increased 0.2% in April, the same figure that was anticipated by economists polled by Dow Jones. Core PCE rose 2.8% on an annualized basis, slightly above the 2.7% prediction from economists.

“This week’s most important economic data came and went without deviating much from expectations,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, adding that the market breathed a “sigh of relief” after the report.

Traders also reacted to the latest corporate earnings results. Dell Technologies tumbled more than 17% despite strong earnings after saying its AI server backlog was smaller than anticipated. Cloud security stock Zscaler popped 8.5%, while developer data platform MongoDB plunged almost 24%. Apparel retailer Gap jumped more than 28%.

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