Wall Street closes out its best month in more than a year

Wall Street closes out its best month in more than a year

Stocks closed mostly higher Thursday as the market ended November with its biggest monthly gain in more than a year.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4% after drifting between small gains and losses. The benchmark index rose 8.9% in November, its biggest monthly gain since July 2022.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.5%, while the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.2%. Both indexes also posted solid gains for the month, finishing with gains of 8.8% and 10.7%, respectively.

The market marched higher in November as investors grew hopeful that the Federal Reserve is finally done raising interest rates, which fight inflation by slowing the economy. The Fed pushed its benchmark interest rate from near zero in 2022 to its highest level in two decades this year.

The rally also was driven largely by the technology sector, where several companies with high values tend to disproportionately impact the market. Microsoft gained 12.1% for the month, while Nvidia rose 14.7%.

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Treasury yields also generally fell, easing pressure on stocks, though the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, rose to 4.34% Thursday from 4.26% the prior day.

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Trader Michael Milano, right, works Nov. 1 on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

A Commerce Department report Thursday said prices were unchanged from September to October, down from a 0.4% rise the previous month. Compared with a year ago, consumer prices rose 3% in October, below the 3.4% annual rate in September and the lowest year-over-year inflation rate in more than 2½ years.

The Labor Department said Thursday slightly more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, but the number of people in the U.S. collecting benefits rose to its highest level in two years. It shows the labor market remains strong but may be softening.

The latest data raised hopes that the Fed will achieve a “soft landing” — cooling inflation without causing a deep recession.

Surprisingly encouraging corporate earnings gave investors more confidence.

Software company Salesforce jumped 9.4% after a strong profit forecast. Cloud-computing company Snowflake rose 7% after an encouraging financial forecast.

On the losing end, data storage company Pure Storage fell 12.2% after a disappointing revenue outlook.

All told, the S&P 500 rose 17.22 points to 4,567.80 Thursday. The Dow jumped 520.47 points to 35,950.89. The Nasdaq composite dropped 32.27 points to 14,226.22.

Oil and gasoline prices in the U.S. fell, relieving pressure on consumers. The price of U.S. crude oil fell 2.4% Thursday.

In Europe, the latest data showed inflation dropped more than expected to 2.4% in November, the lowest in more than two years.

Stocks in Asia and Europe closed mostly higher.