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Wall Street gains, dollar climbs on solid data, debt ceiling progress

Wall Street gains, dollar climbs on solid data, debt ceiling progress

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Wall Street turned higher and the dollar reached a seven-week peak on Thursday as discount retail giant Walmart Inc raised its sales outlook and strong economic data calmed recession fears.

Investors also appeared to take heart from signs that partisan negotiators in Washington seem to be inching closer to a debt ceiling deal.

The three major U.S. stock indexes initially wavered but soon gathered strength, with tech shares putting the Nasdaq out front.

Walmart reported better-than-expected quarterly results and hiked its full-year sales forecasts, citing resilient consumer spending and countering this week’s downbeat forecasts from Home Depot Inc and Target Corp.

Optimism about debt ceiling talks grew, with hopes for a deal that avoids a catastrophic default.

The borrowing limit debate is “Kabuki theater – we’ve seen this story before many times,” said Charles Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.

“Something will get resolved and that may involve kicking the can down the road. It might have a short-term impact on the markets but if you’re a long-term investor it doesn’t make any sense to base decisions on debt ceiling negotiations.”

Data showed fewer-than-expected Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, supporting the likelihood of a “soft landing” but also lowering odds that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates before year-end.

“Walmart numbers were good, and unemployment claims are indicating that the economy is a bit stronger, and the narrative that the Fed is going to be cutting rates by the end of the year, for today, doesn’t seem as likely,” Carlson added.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 25.24 points, or 0.08%, to 33,446.01; the S&P 500 gained 17.83 points, or 0.43%, at 4,176.6; and the Nasdaq Composite added 101.48 points, or 0.81%, at 12,602.04.

European stocks rebounded and the German DAX rose to its highest level since January 2022 on optimism about U.S. debt ceiling talks.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.36% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.29%.

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Emerging market stocks rose 0.14%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.28% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.60%.

The greenback extended its ascent against a basket of world currencies, reaching a seven-week high, powered by solid economic data and debt ceiling hopes.

The dollar index rose 0.62%, with the euro down 0.68% at $1.0765.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.65% versus the greenback to 138.60 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2407, down 0.63% on the day.

The 10-year Treasury yield continued its ascent, to the highest level since March, following solid economic data and hopes for a debt limit resolution.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 14/32 in price to yield 3.6343%, versus 3.581% late on Wednesday.

The 30-year bond last fell 15/32 in price to yield 3.9059%, versus 3.878% late on Wednesday.

Crude prices pulled back from Wednesday’s surge.

U.S. crude fell 0.77% to $72.27 per barrel and Brent was last at $76.25, down 0.92% on the day.

Gold moved in opposition to the dollar, the precious metal losing some luster as debt ceiling talks wore on and hopes faded for a Fed rate cut before year-end.

Spot gold dropped 1.3% to $1,955.09 an ounce.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft and Kevin Buckland in London; Editing by Richard Chang)

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