By Noel Randewich
(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq jumped on Thursday, racking up their biggest daily percentage gains in over 2-1/2 years as a sign of slowing inflation in October sparked speculation the Federal Reserve might become less aggressive with interest rate hikes.
Stocks in sectors across the board surged as the latest consumer price data cheered investors worried that ongoing interest rate hikes could hobble the U.S. economy.
One-time Wall Street darlings tarnished in 2022’s bear market were among Thursday’s strongest performers, with Nvidia jumping about 14%, Meta Platforms climbing 10% and Alphabet rising 7.6%.
The Labor Department’s data showed the annual CPI number below 8% for the first time in eight months.
“This is a big deal,” said King Lip, chief strategist at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco. “We have been calling the peak of inflation for the last couple of months and just have been incredibly frustrated that it hasn’t shown up in the data. For the first time, it has actually shown up in the data.”
Growing recession worries have hammered Wall Street this year. The S&P 500 remains down about 17% year to date, and it is on course for its biggest annual decline since 2008.
The inflation data prompted traders to adjust rate hike bets, with odds of a 50-basis point rate hike in December, rather than a 75-basis point hike, jumping to about 85% from 52% before the data was released, according to the CME FedWatch tool.
San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan welcomed the most recent inflation data, but warned that the fight with rising prices was far from over.
Amazon.com Inc surged more than 12% after the Wall Street Journal reported that the e-commerce heavyweight was reviewing unprofitable business units to cut costs. Graphic: S&P 500’s busiest trades https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/jnpwygqxapw/SPX_by_busiest_trades.png The S&P 500 climbed 5.54% to end the session at 3,956.31 points.
The Nasdaq gained 7.35% to 11,114.15 points, while Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.70% to 33,715.37 points.
All 11 S&P 500 sector indexes rallied, led by information technology .SPLRCT, up 8.33%, followed by a 7.74% gain in real estate .SPLRCR.
The Philadelphia semiconductor index surged 10.2%, cutting its loss in 2022 to about 32%.
The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, fell to a near two-month low of about 23 points.
Some investors urged caution that Thursday’s rally may be overdone.
“The market is – as it has been a few times this year – very eager to trade a ‘Fed pivot’ … but we think the market is getting a little ahead of itself based on one print,” said Zach Hill, head of portfolio management at Horizon Investments in Charlotte.
The PHLX Housing index jumped 10.3% to its highest since August after tumbling this year over concerns about higher mortgage rates denting affordability.
Rivian Automotive Inc surged 17.4% after the electric-vehicle maker reported a smaller-than-expected loss, higher number of pre-orders and reaffirmed its full-year production outlook.
The Dow has now recovered about 17% from its closing low on Sept. 30, and it remains down about 9% from its record high close in early January.
Advancing issues outnumbered falling ones within the S&P 500 by a 26.9-to-one ratio.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 120 new highs and 166 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was heavy, with 14.9 billion shares traded, compared to an average of 11.9 billion shares over the previous 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Noel Randewich in Oakland, California, Chuck Mikolajczak in New York and by Shubham Batra, Bansari Mayur Kamdar, Devik Jain and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Arun Koyyur and David Gregorio)