US stock indexes are mixed, while ‘meme’ stocks swing again

Business

Stocks were mixed Wednesday, as modest gains from health care and big technology companies offset declines in banks and other parts of the market. Stocks championed by hordes of online retail investors, the “meme” stocks as they have become known, were volatile once again.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.2% as of 11:21 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 52 points, or 0.2%, to 34,6652 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.3%.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was nearly evenly split between gainers and losers. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was lifted by the usual Big Tech companies that have pushed that index generally higher for the last 18 months. Microsoft’s stock rose 0.7% and Amazon’s climbed 0.8%.

Several health care companies made solid gains. Merck rose 2.2% after announcing a supply agreement with the U.S. and Canada for a potential COVID-19 treatment. AbbVie gained 1.3% after announcing a collaboration with Caraway Therapeutics to make treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Treasury yields slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.49% from 1.52% late Tuesday. The falling yields broadly weighed down banks, which rely on higher yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans.

Investors continue to focus a significant amount of attention on inflation. China’s producer price index, which measures prices of raw goods and services, jumped 9% from a year earlier in May, the fastest increase since 2008 and above analysts’ forecasts. Surging prices for oil and other commodities and manufacturing components such as semiconductors were the main factor behind the jump in producer prices there.

Aside from surging prices of raw materials, fuel and other items needed for manufacturing, factories are struggling to keep up with demand as the pandemic recedes in many places. That has pushed up prices of everything from food to household staples.

Investors will get closely watched U.S. inflation data on Thursday and how it might impact ultra-low interest rates and other market-supporting policies.

Volatility in stocks embraced by Reddit investors continued for another day Wednesday. Clover Health fell 7.1% while AMC Entertainment sank 7.3%.

The original “meme” stock, GameStop, will report its quarterly results after the closing bell on Wednesday. The company has tried to avoid its attachment to the online activist investor community as best as it can. It’s last quarterly conference call with investors lasted 15 minutes and the company took zero questions.

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