Dow Stumbles to Begin Q2

The S&P 500 ticked higher Monday as Wall Street kicked off the second quarter following a strong start to the year, and traders weighed fresh U.S. inflation data.

The Dow Jones Industrials fell 197.94 points to 39,609.43.

The much-broader index removed 0.76 points to 5,253.59.

The NASDAQ revived 59.47 points to 16,438.93.

The major averages are coming off a winning first quarter. The S&P 500 jumped 10.2% for its best first-quarter performance since 2019, while the Dow added 5.6%. The NASDAQ popped 9.1%.

Markets also wrapped up a winning March and their fifth consecutive positive month, with the S&P and Dow rising 3.1% and 2.1%, respectively. The NASDAQ edged up 1.8% for the month.

Ongoing bets on artificial intelligence stocks and tailwinds from Nvidia have continued powering the market higher in the new year after a strong 2023. That comes alongside the expectation for the start of a rate-cutting cycle from the Federal Reserve later this year, with markets pricing in a cut as soon as June.

The personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy, released Friday during the market closure for Good Friday, showed inflation rose 2.8% in February, which is in line with expectations. The inflation gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve also rose 0.3% from a month ago, the Commerce Department said.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell also said Friday that policymakers don’t need to rush an interest rate cut with economic growth still strong and inflation above target.

Prices for the 10-year Treasury moved sharply backward, raising yields to 4.31% from Thursday’s 4.21%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices were unchanged at $83.17 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices picked up $18.00 to $2,241.80 U.S. an ounce.