Stocks edge higher on Wall Street, led by gains in Big Tech

FILE - Pedestrians pass the New York Stock Exchange as it operates during normal business hours in the Financial District, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in the Manhattan borough of New York. Stocks are opening mostly higher on Wall Street Thursday, Nov. 11, a day after a surge in inflation knocked the market lower. Big tech companies had some of the strongest gains in the early going. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, FILE)
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By DAMIAN J. TROISE AP Business Writer

Stocks edged higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday a day after a surge in inflation tripped up major indexes.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3% as of 12:01 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 59 points, or 0.2%, to 36,020 largely due to a steep drop in Walt Disney. The Nasdaq rose 0.8%.

Smaller-company stocks outpaced the broader market in a sign that investors were feeling confident about economic growth. The Russell 2000 rose 0.9%.

Technology stocks made the strongest gains, led by chipmakers. Nvidia rose 1.8% and Qualcomm rose 2.9%.

A mix of companies that rely on direct consumer spending also gained ground. Coach and Kate Spade owner Tapestry jumped 9.5% after reporting strong fiscal first-quarter financial results.

Health care stocks fell. Medical technology maker Medtronic shed 2.3%. Industries that are considered less risky, including utilities and household product makers, lagged the broader market.

Walt Disney fell 7.1% after reporting a slowdown in subscriber gains at its streaming channel and weak fiscal fourth-quarter financial results.

Beyond Meat dropped 14.2% after reporting a much wider loss than analysts were expecting.

The latest round of corporate earnings has been winding down. Weeks of solid financial reports helped the broader market rise and reach a series of records. Inflation concerns have been rattling investors throughout the week, however.

“It’s a pretty simple rule to be long during earnings and cautious outside of earnings,” said Jay Hatfield, CEO of Infrastructure Capital Advisors, “Earnings ends and then the stock market is a victim of other data, which tends to be bad.”

Every major index slipped on Wednesday following a hotter-than-expected inflation report from the Labor Department that revealed a surge in consumer prices surged in October. That report came on the heels of data on Tuesday that showed inflation at the wholesale level also surged in October.

The inflation concerns pushed bond yields broadly higher on Wednesday, though the bond market was closed for Veterans Day on Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury stood at 1.55% as of late Wednesday.

Companies have been warning that they are being squeezed by higher raw materials costs and supply chain problems. Many have been able to pass off those higher costs to consumers, but that has raised concerns about higher prices eventually prompting a pullback in consumer spending.

The latest report on consumer prices revealed that inflation is hitting essential items such as food, rent, autos and heating oil particularly hard. Analysts worry that consumers could cut spending on discretionary items to focus on essentials, which could then crimp the broader economic recovery.

Concerns about rising inflation are also raising expectations that the Federal Reserve will have to raise short-term interest rates more quickly off their record low. The central bank has already begun to pare back on the bond purchases it makes every month to keep longer-term rates low.

“The weird thing is what’s hurting the economy is also supporting the stock market,” Hatfield said, referring to the Fed’s stimulus measures.