Dow Jones, S&P set new records after choppy month for stocks

Two major stock indexes set new records Monday as markets Wall Street traders place their bets in another year of economic uncertainty.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 138 points by the closing bell Monday, a gain of 0.4 percent that put the index above 38,000 points for the first time. The S&P 500 index rose 0.2 percent on the day to close at a new record high of 4,850.43. The Nasdaq composite closed Monday with a gain of 0.3 percent.

Stocks have bounced around since the start of 2024 as Wall Street watches whether the Federal Reserve can pull off a “soft landing” and bring inflation down without a recession.

Fed officials closed out 2023 with confidence that inflation was on track to fall back to the central bank’s 2 percent annual target. The Fed kicked off a year-end rally when it projected to cut interest rates at some point this year, but stocks retreated after unexpectedly strong December jobs and inflation reports raised questions about timing.

Stocks have also rallied on rising consumer sentiment, which has rebounded as inflation continues to slow and gas prices dip toward pre-pandemic levels. But rising tensions across the Middle East have raised fears in markets of a war-driven economic downturn.

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