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Stock market today: S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit fresh highs, Nvidia tops $2 trillion as rally rages

March arrived with a bang on Wall Street as stocks set new records, fueled by a promising inflation reading and a relentless tech rally, which saw Nvidia closing with a market cap above $2 trillion for the first time.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) gained 0.8%, setting a new high. The S&P 500 has risen 16 out of 18 weeks, chugging along after passing 5,000 for the first time last month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose 0.2% or just under 100 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) rose 1.1%, claiming a record of its own for the second day in a row.

Stocks are kicking off March with an upbeat reaction to PCE data that showed inflation continued to cool — easing worries the Federal Reserve would get more reason to hold off from interest rate cuts. But further scrutiny has highlighted signs of "sticky" inflation that will be harder to shift.

Among big movers, Nvidia (NVDA), the tech company at the center of the AI excitement on Wall Street ended the day with a market cap exceeding $2 trillion for the first time. Meanwhile, shares in New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) tumbled 26% after the exit of its CEO, a $2.7 billion quarterly loss, and findings of "material weaknesses" in the bank's loan processes. Finally, Dell (DELL) shares rose 31% in the wake of a quarterly sales and profit beat fueled by AI prospects for its servers.

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Developments at OpenAI caught the attention of investors tracking the sector. Elon Musk has sued the Microsoft-backed (MSFT) company and its CEO Sam Altman, among others, over a breach of contract. Also, the ChatGPT maker is reportedly set to name new board members in March to end an impasse linked to Altman's abrupt firing last year.

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER13 updates
  • Stocks end blockbuster week with S&P 500, Nasdaq and Nvidia reaching new records

    The February rally never ended and now the March rally has begun.

    Two major indexes claimed record highs Friday, fueled by the excitement around tech's AI moment.

    The S&P 500 (^GSPC) gained 0.8%, setting a new high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose 0.2% or just under 100 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) rose 1.1%, claiming a record close for the second day in a row.

  • A look at the week ahead

    Target (T), Costco (COST), and Box (BOX) are among the major names to report next week, as the earnings winds down but continues to ramp up Wall Street's optimism, propelling market to new highs.

    February's jobs report will inform Fed officials as they continue to weigh economic data leading up to the their next policy meeting later this month. As growth resurges and stubborn inflation pressures remain, some officials have tempered expectations that rate cuts will arrive soon. The Fed will release heir updated forecasts on March 20, alongside its next monetary policy decision, which Wall Street expects to go unchanged.

    Thursday's inflation reading of the Fed's preferred measure the core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, rose 0.4% over the prior month in January. And compared to a month ago, the market is more confident that a rate cut wont arrive until June.

    Investors and and policymakers will also be on the lookout for the latest data on job openings and labor turnover pinned to January 2024, providing more insight into employers' staffing prospects and the confidence of job seekers.

    Yahoo Finance's Brent Sanchez has a graphical breakdown of what to watch next week:

  • Apple says goodbye to cars and hello to AI

    Save your condolences for the death of the AppleCar and send your congratulations. Who needs an expensive, low-margin electric vehicle when you have ambiguous hopes for AI?

    After an ill-fated, decade-long odyssey, Apple has said goodbye to its car project and will redirect resources to its artificial intelligence division. A blow to all who longed to see exactly which generation Fiat 500 Jony Ive would have paid homage to.

    If the decision was an admission of defeat — Elon Musk responded to the news on X with an emoji of a salute and a cigarette — it didn't feel like one. The collective response from several analysts and the market was something close to "good riddance."

    Scuttling the multibillion-dollar insurgent effort will allow Cupertino to focus on a broad AI strategy within the Apple ecosystem, said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives.

    Others have pointed to the way Apple's software and intuitive design have already reshaped the car industry through CarPlay, software that connects iPhones to cars, effectively transforming other companies' hardware into extensions of its walled garden.

    Musk's recent fuss over unlocking Tesla's AI potential makes Apple's car exit even more compelling. CEO Tim Cook already has multiple conduits for intimate data gathering and platforms for refining AI tools. Musk's vehicles are parked outside; Cook's screens tuck you in at night.

    But there's something too on the nose and a little bleak about the world's most valuable company shuffling staff from its daring EV project to the trend of the moment, pursuing a more dazzling version of ChatGPT, or finding immersive ways to sink users more deeply into their couch. You'd think the phrase "If you can't beat em, join em" shouldn't apply to an enterprise packing hundreds of billions of dollars to throw at a problem.

    At the company's annual shareholder meeting earlier this week, Cook said Apple will share details of its new AI features later this year. It's still not clear how AI will resuscitate Apple's growth story. But at least now we know where it won't come from.

  • Earnings season highlights media's two-sided dilemma

    Legacy media is facing a two-pronged conundrum: TV networks are in decline as a dismal ad environment drags on revenue. In the meantime, streaming remains unprofitable for the majority of players as costs rise and subscriber growth stalls.

    Most recently, Paramount (PARA) reported linear ad revenue slumped 15% year over year in Q4, steeper than the 12% drop expected by analysts and also worse than the 14% drag seen in the third quarter.

    Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), Disney (DIS), and Comcast (CMCSA) also saw ad revenue in their traditional broadcast and cable businesses slump this earnings season.

    It's a tough spot for media companies, which have invested in expensive streaming endeavors amid the mass exodus of pay TV consumers.

    Prior to the cord-cutting phenomenon, linear advertising and cable affiliate fees had consistently boosted revenues. But as ad buyers now flee traditional TV channels in favor of digital options like streaming, companies are beginning to realize that they may never see the same level of returns.

    Adding on to financial pressures? The streaming boom may be over.

    "The headlines have been unavoidable suggesting that the boom times are over and streaming video is in a new phase of sobriety," subscription analytics platform Antenna wrote in its quarterly "State of Subscriptions" report published on Tuesday.

    Antenna revealed that subscribers to premium subscription services grew at their slowest pace since before the pandemic began, rising just 10.1% compared to the 21.6% seen in 2022.

    On top of slowing growth, churn — or subscribers canceling their streaming plans — has nearly tripled since 2019 with 140.5 million cancellations in 2023, the largest drop in subscribers over the last five years.

    As consumer sign-ups slow, streaming profitability still has a long way to go. Virtually all media companies continue to lose money on that business, with the exception of Netflix and very recently Warner Bros. Discovery.

    But even WBD's streaming turnaround wasn't enough to lift earnings in the fourth quarter, further highlighting the struggle of legacy media's balancing act. The company still reported a miss on both the top and bottom lines, dragged down by a drop in networks revenue and the ad market plummet.

    Read more here.

  • Stocks trending in afternoon trading

    Here are some of the stocks leading Yahoo Finance’s trending tickers page during afternoon trading on Friday:

    Fisker (FSR): The automaker sank almost 40% Friday afternoon after unloading a cache of bad news during its Q4 earnings report Thursday. Fisker reported that given its financial condition, evolving dealership sales approach and challenging EV market, it has “substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern” when the company files its official financial statements for 2023. Fisker also said it would reduce its headcount by 15%.

    West Texas Intermediate (CL=F): Oil prices jumped 2% amid signs of tight supply, rising above $80 per barrel for the first time this year. Brent (BZ=F), the international benchmark price, also rose to trade above $83 per barrel.

    Dell (DELL): Shares of the technology company rose 25% Friday morning following a quarterly sales and profit beat fueled by AI prospects for its servers.

    New York Community Bancorp (NYCB): Shares tumbled 27% after the exit of its CEO, a $2.7 billion quarterly loss, and findings of "material weaknesses" in the bank's loan processes.

    Apple (AAPL): Shares of the iPhone maker fell 1% after the stock was initially buoyed by a report that it had canceled its decade-long car project and would shift resources to its artificial intelligence efforts. During the company’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this week, CEO Tim Cook said Apple is investing significantly in AI and will break new ground in generative AI later this year.

  • Stocks rise in afternoon trading

    Stocks gathered momentum in afternoon trading on Friday, building on February's rally and setting indexes up for record highs to start the new month.

    The S&P 500 (^GSPC) gained 0.6%, coming off a record close and best February in almost a decade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose 0.2% or about 70 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) rose 0.8%.

  • Oil prices jump 3% amid signs of tight supply

    Oil futures rose as much as 3% on Friday to their highest levels since November, as market conditions point to tight supplies.

    West Texas Intermediate (CL=F) jumped above $80 per barrel for the first time this year. Brent (BZ=F), the international benchmark price, also rose to trade above $83 per barrel.

    Friday's jump follows two consecutive months of gains. Greater-than-expected demand out of Asia coupled with expectations that oil alliance OPEC+ will extend its output reductions past March has helped lift contract prices.

    "I think the rally in crude oil prices is on the expectation that OPEC+ will continue with their voluntary production cuts well into the second quarter of 2024," Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates told Yahoo Finance on Friday.

    Near-term contracts are currently trading at a premium compared to later months, a market condition called "backwardation" which signals crude supply tightness.

    Read more here.

  • Mortgage rates are flirting with 7% — but one homebuilder says consumer tolerance is growing

    Mortgage rates have remained above 7% every day for the last two weeks. But one homebuilder says consumers are more willing to swallow higher rates than they used to be.

    According to Mortgage News Daily, the benchmark rate for a 30-year fixed-rate loan reached 7.16% on two separate days over the last week and settled at 7.1% on Thursday.

    "The consumers have come a long way in the last year, 18 months, when rates were flirting at that 7%,” Taylor Morrison (TMHC) CEO Sheryl Palmer told Yahoo Finance Live Thursday.

    “Back then they were still hoping rates would go back to 4%. I think the consumer has met us kind of in the middle, recognizing that rates in the fives or sixes is actually, from any kind of long-term historic perspective, a really good rate,” Palmer added.

    Taylor Morrison like others in the industry is able to offer such rates to buyers through incentives like mortgage rate buydowns, where the builder covers a portion of the interest paid on a loan.

    “The reality is every buyer needs something a little bit different,” Palmer said.

    “[Some] want a lower rate. …The ability to personalize [rates] today, I think, is most important. But I think it's created a real advantage for the new home market versus that opportunity doesn't really exist in the existing market.”

  • Elon Musk sues OpenAI for abandoning its original mission and pursuing profit

    Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has filed a lawsuit against the maker of ChatGPT, OpenAI, and its CEO Sam Altman over what he alleges is a breach of contract.

    Musk claims the company is no longer following its original goal of helping humanity, and is instead focused on profits.

    "OpenAI has been transformed into a closed-source de facto subsidiary of the largest technology company in the world: Microsoft," the lawsuit states.

    Musk is asking the court to force OpenAI to make its research and technology publicly available and to block the AI company from using its assets to financially benefit Microsoft (MSFT) or other individuals.

    The lawsuit comes as OpenAI faces a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is looking into whether investors in the company were misled following a chaotic overhaul of the company's governance structure in November. Amid these regulatory troubles, OpenAI is planning to appoint several new board members within the next month, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

    Musk stepped down from OpenAI's board in 2018 and has previously called for regulation on AI technology. The owner of the website formally known as Twitter and the CEO of SpaceX also claims his own AI startup, xAI. Musk's AI company launched its own ChatGPT rival dubbed Grok, available to X premium subscribers.

  • Stocks trending in morning trading

    Here are some of the stocks leading Yahoo Finance’s trending tickers page during morning trading on Friday:

    Dell (DELL): Shares of the technology company rose 25% Friday morning following a quarterly sales and profit beat fueled by AI prospects for its servers.

    New York Community Bancorp (NYCB): Shares tumbled 27% after the exit of its CEO, a $2.7 billion quarterly loss, and findings of "material weaknesses" in the bank's loan processes.

    AMD (AMD): The chip giant rose to record highs on Friday, increasing more than 4% as some analysts see further upside in the company's data center segment and investors pile AI-related stocks following Nividia's (NVDA) staggering climb.

    Apple (AAPL): Shares of the iPhone maker fell 1% after the stock was initially buoyed by a report that it had canceled its decade-long car project and would shift resources to its artificial intelligence efforts. During the company’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this week, CEO Tim Cook said Apple is investing significantly in AI and will break new ground in generative AI later this year.

  • Stocks mixed to start March trading

    Wall Street rung in the first trading day of March with mixed results as momentum from the prior blowout month ebbed.

    The S&P 500 (^GSPC) gained 0.1%, after the benchmark index's record close and best February in almost a decade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) lost 0.1%, or about 50 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) rose 0.2%.

  • Dell talks up AI in earnings call

    New day, same old signs of a tech bubble.

    Shares of formerly sleepy Dell (DELL) are up 31% pre-market because it spent most of its earnings call last night talking about AI. Yes, the same Dell that sold you your first desktop computer in the 1990s.

    Scenes from Dell's earnings call:

    "We have positioned ourselves well in AI. We've already started to benefit from the momentum we're seeing. We saw strong demand continue for our AI-optimized server portfolio, including our flagship PowerEdge XE9680, which remains the fastest-ramping solution in company history. We have just started to touch the AI opportunities ahead of us, including broader adoption of AI by enterprise customers and the projected growth in unstructured data where we are well positioned with industry-leading storage solutions." — Jeff Clarke, Dell COO

    "AI-optimized server orders increased by nearly 40% sequentially. We shipped $800 million of AI-optimized servers, and our backlog nearly doubled sequentially, exiting the fiscal year at $2.9 billion. Demand continues to outpace GPU supply, though we are seeing H100 lead times improving. We are also seeing strong interest in orders for AI-optimized servers equipped with the next generation of AI GPUs, including the H200 and the MI300X." Jeff Clarke

    The hyper AI-infused Dell call prompted this report headline from JP Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee:

    "Just What the Investors Ordered With AI-Led ISG Acceleration; Raise Estimates and PT"

    I guess nothing more to see here — Dell apparently is no longer a PC seller, but an AI beast that is going to change the world alongside Nvidia (NVDA)!

    Welcome to the bubble, friends.

  • Hat tip to AMD CEO Lisa Su

    I remember it like it was yesterday.

    I was sitting in a meeting room with former Cisco (CSCO) CEO John Chambers, just a casual meeting to see what he was up to in life after leading the networking giant. Rather than discuss where he was playing golf next, Chambers went on and on about then Cisco board member and AMD (AMD) CEO Lisa Su.

    "Watch Lisa Su, watch what she does over the next few years," Chambers told me (I still have the comment written down in my phone's notepad).

    The market has more than watched what Su has done since joining the former also-ran AMD as CEO in 2014. It has become a believer in the humble, focused leadership of Su and the results she continues to drive for shareholders.

    The company broke through the $300 billion market cap level on Thursday and is poised to tack on more gains today.

    Su refuses to play second fiddle in the AI chip race to rival Nvidia (NVDA), led by the black-leather-jacket-wearing Jensen Huang. Su isn't awestruck by Intel (INTC) building chip factories in the US.

    She just gets transformational things done, period. And right now, that includes rolling out very powerful AI chips to supply an under-supplied market.

    "There are going to be multiple winners in this market," Su told me in early December. "I think there's a great growth opportunity for us; we expect to gain market share."

    That December interview from Yahoo Finance Live below.