Stocks rose on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track for a new all-time high as tech-led gains lifted a market weighed down by uncertainty over a possible early interest rate cut.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index (^IXIC) rose 0.7%, aiming to return to gains posted on Thursday, as Apple (AAPL) and semiconductor manufacturers outperformed. The benchmark S&P 500 Index (^GSPC) rose 0.5%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose 0.5%, or about 170 points.
Now that the main drivers of stock gains in the second half of 2023 have faded, the focus has shifted to big tech that could revitalize a sluggish stock market. Thursday's tech-led rally brought the S&P 500 within 0.3% of its closing record high of 4,796.56, ending the Dow Jones Industrial Average's three-day losing streak.
But the holiday-shortened week was a volatile one for stocks as investors tried to gauge a possible change in Federal Reserve policy and reacted to policymakers' statements, economic data and corporate earnings. Markets are still closely watching for clues about the timing of a rate cut that could set the tone for businesses this year.
read more: Impact of the Fed's interest rate hike suspension on bank accounts, CDs, loans, and credit cards
Among individual stocks, iRobot (IRBT) shares fell 29% following reports that EU regulators plan to block Amazon's (AMZN) $1.4 billion acquisition of the Roomba maker. Meanwhile, Macy's (M) fell more than 3% after the company announced 2,350 layoffs and the closure of five of its stores.
Quarterly results for Travelers (TRV), Regions Financial (RF) and Banks will be published in earnings reports on Friday. The latest economic information will include statistics on existing home sales for December and a survey of consumer sentiment by the University of Michigan.
Elsewhere, the U.S. government's funding spree was given a reprieve after lawmakers passed interim legislation to avert a looming government shutdown.
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