Stocks finished Wednesday’s seesaw session modestly higher, as strong earnings countered an upswing in consumer prices that muted investors’ glee over an impending end to interest rate hikes.
Wall Street extended its big rally from Tuesday, when stocks surged after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting indicated policymakers felt they may have raised interest rates high enough to ward off inflation. Investors, relieved after months of uncertainty, pushed the Dow Jones industrial average up almost 200 points.
Inflation worries lingered on Wall Street Wednesday after the Labor Department said the core consumer price index, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, grew 0.3 percent in March, the biggest jump in a year. Economists predicted a 0.2 percent gain.
While the core CPI increase again raises questions about the Fed’s monetary policy, continued strength in energy and gold prices could soon become a problem for inflation, said Peter Cardillo, chief strategist and market analyst for S.W. Bach & Co.
“We can’t continue to have oil prices rise without impacting prices and economic activity,” Cardillo said. “Somewhere along the line it will have a negative impact.”
The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day up 10.00 points, or 0.09 percent, having jumped 195 points in Tuesday’s session. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index added 2.28 points, or 0.17 percent, while the Nasdaq composite index hit a new five-year high, rising 14.74 points, or 0.63 percent.
All three of the market’s main stock indexes closed Tuesday with their biggest one-day gain since April 21, 2005.
Interest rate concerns pulled bonds lower, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 5.03 percent. The dollar gained ground against other major currencies, and gold prices marched toward $650 an ounce.
Crude oil futures moved above $72 despite expectations for a weekly supply report to show an increase in U.S. fuel reserves.
Dow component JPMorgan Chase & Co. said its earnings climbed 36 percent on strength in credit cards and commercial banking, the latest in the wave of solid results from financial institutions. JPMorgan rose 2 cents to $42.62.
Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc. posted a profit that was almost 14 times last year’s results, which were hurt by $3 billion of charges from pulling its painkiller Bextra off the market and from the repatriation of foreign earnings. Pfizer fell 11 cents at $24.82.
Coca-Cola Co.’s earnings grew 10 percent to narrowly beat Wall Street estimates, as its sales inched higher on a 5 percent volume increase. Coca-Cola rose 39 cents to $41.69.
United Tech, maker of Sikorsky helicopters, said its earnings gained 18 percent last quarter on improved military business, topping Wall Street forecasts. United Tech leapt $3.90 to $62.80.
Late Tuesday, Yahoo’s quarterly profit matched analyst targets as advertising revenue swelled 34 percent from the year before. Yahoo surged $2.24 to $33.54.
Motorola Inc. slumped $1.59 to $22.49 as investors saw its declining margin as a sign the company cut prices and sacrificed profits in an effort to boost sales, which soared 23 percent. Motorola’s profit slid less than a percent but still met analyst estimates.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average added 0.68 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.76 percent, Germany’s DAX index surged 1.54 percent and France’s CAC-40 was higher by 1.22 percent.