Stock Market Today: S&P 500 closes higher on tech strength; big bank earnings eyed

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Stock Market Today: S&P 500 closes higher on tech strength; big bank earnings eyed The S&P 500 closed higher Thursday, led by tech, as data showing cooling producer prices eased inflation jitters somewhat just a day ahead of earnings from major Wall Street banks.   

At 16:00 ET (20:00 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 75 points, or 0.2%, the S&P 500 was 0.89% higher, while the NASDAQ Composite gained 1.7%.

PPI rises by less than expected in March

U.S. producer prices increased by slightly less than expected in March, with PPI rising 0.2% last month, after rising by 0.6% in February. Economists had expected the PPI to gain 0.3%.

In the 12 months through January, the PPI  increased 2.1%, below the 2.2% expected, after climbing 1.6% in February.

The data come just a day after consumer inflation data for March rose more than expected, denting investor optimism for a Federal Reserve rate cut as soon as June. 

Markets see only a 24% chance for a June cut, down from 61.1% seen last week. 

On the labor market front, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting that the labor market remained healthy.

Constellation Brands earnings impress, CarMax disappoints; big tech gains, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) record high 

Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ ) stock rose more than 1% to a new 52-week high after the drinks giant delivered an earnings beat on the back of strong beer sales.

CarMax (NYSE: KMX ) stock slumped 9% after the used vehicle retailer posted a lower fourth-quarter profit, hurt by decreased profitability from units sold.

The duo of quarterly report come just a day ahead of earnings from Wall Street banks including JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ), Citigroup (NYSE: C ) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ), with BlackRock (NYSE: BLK ), the world’s largest asset manager, also reporting at the end of the week.  

"We see multiple catalysts over the next three months including an easing of investor concerns regarding Basel 3 Endgame (B3E) and more news on capital returns through the CCAR (Comprehensive Capital and Analysis Review)," Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) said in a note that recommended clients buy call options in large cap banks.  

Big tech, meanwhile, led the broader market higher, powered by a more than 4% in Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL ) on a Bloomberg report that the tech giant is looking to boost Macbook sales by focusing the next upgrade of its M-family of chips on artificial intelligence.

Amazon, meanwhile, closed a record high after the Amazon CEO Andy Jassy talked up the opportunity for AWS as cloud computing is set for a major boost from generative artificial intelligence. 

Nike gains on Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) upgrade, Alpine in takeover deal, Paramount

Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE ) rose more than 3% after Bank of America upgraded its rating on the stock to buy from neutral, citing a compelling valuation.

Alpine Immune Sciences (NASDAQ: ALPN ) soared 37% after it said it will be acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX ). 

Paramount Global Class B (NASDAQ: PARA ), meanwhile, gained nearly 8% on signs of progress toward a deal with Skydance Media, following the latter's all-stock takeover proposal. CNBC's David Faber reported that two firms are negotiating an exchange ratio in which Paramount would buy Skydance as part of a possible merger.

(Peter Nurse, Ambar Warrick contributed to this article.)

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