US STOCKS-Wall Street ends higher as investors eye inflation data

(Updates with end of trading session)


Meta climbs after report of more layoffs


Fidelity National slumps on payments business spinoff


Tech-related heavyweights drive S&P 500 gains

By Noel Randewich

Feb 13 (Reuters) – Wall Street closed higher on Monday as investors awaited inflation data likely to hint at the path of the Federal Reserve’s future interest rate hikes, while Meta Platforms gained after a report that the Facebook parent was planning fresh layoffs.

Meta jumped after the Financial Times reported on Sunday that the company was preparing to announce a new round of job cuts, adding to layoffs last November.

Microsoft, Nvidia, Apple and Amazon also gained. Along with Meta, those tech-related heavyweights contributed more than any other stocks to the S&P 500’s gains for the session.

Helping lift Microsoft, Stifel raised its price target on the software company and said it is clearly looking to upend Alphabet’s Google search dominance through its integration with ChatGPT.

Investors are laser-focused on January inflation data due on Tuesday to reassess their bets on the central bank’s monetary policy path.

Wall Street’s main indexes lost ground last week after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that interest rates may need to move higher than expected in the central bank’s battle against inflation.

“Today is just a natural reaction in the opposite direction after we’ve seen very heavy selling pressure,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments in Atlanta.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 46.50 points, or 1.15%, to end at 4,137.48 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 174.12 points, or 1.49%, to 11,892.24. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 374.45 points, or 1.11%, to 34,243.72.

So far in this year, the S&P 500 has gained about 8%, and the index remains down about 14% from its record high close in January 2022.

Fidelity National Information Services Inc plunged following the banking and payments processing conglomerate’s decision to spin off its merchant payments business.

Coca-Cola rose ahead of its quarterly report due out early on Tuesday.

As U.S. quarterly earnings reports wind down, 69% of the S&P 500 firms that have reported results so far have exceeded profit expectations, according to Refinitiv data. Analysts expect December-quarter earnings to have fallen nearly 3% from a year earlier. (Reporting by Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel, Sriraj Kalluvila, Shinjini Ganguli and Deepa Babington)