US stocks end slightly higher after inflation spike

Wall Street stocks finished a choppy session modestly higher on Wednesday, gaining for a second straight day following data showing another spike in consumer prices.

The Labour Department said its consumer price index jumped by seven percent last year, its fastest pace in four decades. However, the month-on-month increase slowed to 0.5 percent from November, indicating the price surge may be stabilising.

“Inflation is not slowing down just yet, but the peak is getting close,” Oanda’s Edward Moya.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1 percent to 36,290.32.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.3 percent to 4,726.35, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.2 percent to 15,188.39.

The gains extended Tuesday’s rally, when markets viewed congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as largely in line with expectations for the central bank’s response to inflation.

Analysts said the latest consumer price report did not imply the Fed would adopt a more aggressive course than the one outlined by Powell.

Later Wednesday, a Fed report said more American businesses began seeing prices fall or stabilise as 2021 drew to a close.

Most of the people who spoke to the Fed’s regional banks reported “solid growth” in prices, but the report said “some also noted that price increases had decelerated a bit from the robust pace experienced in recent months.”

Among individual companies, Biogen fell 6.7 percent after the US health officials said they would cover the company’s Alzheimer’s disease drug but only for a narrow subset of patients. (AFP)