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U.S. stocks little changed as traders parse earnings

Traders are shown on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 24, 2021. Signs indicate that bond investors may have a better 2023.  (Washington Post )
By Isabelle Lee </p><p>and Denitsa Tsekova Bloomberg

U.S. stocks wavered on Thursday as traders parsed various corporate earnings against a backdrop of aggressive interest-rate hikes by global central banks. The U.S. yield curve remained inverted as recession fears persisted.

The S&P 500 ended the session little changed after fluctuating throughout the session.

The Nasdaq 100 closed higher for the second straight day after swinging between modest gains and losses.

While the tech-heavy index was buoyed by and Advanced Micro Devices later in the session, it was also dragged down by Fortinet after the firm trimmed its service-revenue forecast.

Eli Lilly, which dropped after missing Wall Street expectations for second-quarter revenue, weighed on the S&P 500 Index. Thin liquidity in the summer also tends to amplify market moves.

Treasury yields wobbled throughout the session, with the 10-year rate around 2.66% after pushing past 2.80% on Wednesday.

A flurry of economic data that released this week assuaged fears of a downturn while hinting at stabilizing growth.

But the bond market, especially the persistently inverted Treasury yield curve, is flashing warnings on the economy amid a global wave of monetary tightening.

All eyes will be on the U.S. jobs report on Friday for further clues about the Federal Reserve’s path of rate hikes.

“There’s an intense tug-of-war happening in the economy and markets,” said Dan Suzuki, deputy chief investment officer at Richard Bernstein Advisors.

“On one side, you have a narrative that reasonable growth is going to support continued inflation pressure and keep the Fed hiking. The other narrative is that slowing growth is going to ease inflation and allow the Fed to stop hiking.”

On Thursday, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester reiterated the central bank’s promise to bring down inflation by raising interest rates.

Her counterparts this week have also been backing this hawkish stance, forcing markets to recalibrate after initially expecting a dovish pivot Fed Chair Jerome Powell hinted at last week.

U.S.-China tension also remains among the uncertainties clouding the outlook.

China likely fired missiles over Taiwan during military drills Thursday, Japan said, part of Beijing’s biggest cross-strait exercises in decades after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-ruled island.

West Texas Intermediate stayed below $90 a barrel, a level last seen in the weeks leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gold advanced and Bitcoin fell.