U.S. stocks climbed on Friday, led by bank shares and economic reopening plays as investors cheered data showing subdued inflation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 220 points. The S&P 500 rose 0.8%, led by energy and materials. The Nasdaq Composite inched up 0.2%.
Financial stocks rose after the Federal Reserve announced that banks could resume buybacks and raise dividends starting at the end of June. The central bank originally said it would lift pandemic era restrictions in the first quarter, but even the delayed move gives investors more clarity.
Shares of JPMorgan rose 1.5%, while Bank of America advanced 2%. Goldman Sachs gained 1%.
Classic reopening plays built on the momentum from the previous session. American Airlines climbed 1%, while Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line all climbed more than 1%.
Fears of rising inflation eased after data showed tamed price pressures. The core personal consumption expenditure price index, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.1% month over month, matching expectations from economists polled by Dow Jones. Year over year, the gauge climbed 1.4%, slightly lower than a 1.5% estimate.
“Softer-than-expected PCE deflator data support the idea that Treasury yields will likely consolidate over the short-term,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “The lower the baseline for inflation, the easier markets can become convinced that the upcoming pricing pressure surge will be transitory.”
The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield came off its high following the inflation data, last trading up 3 basis points at 1.65%. The rate jumped 6 basis points earlier.
Meanwhile, consumer sentiment in the U.S. continued to rise amid the vaccine rollout. A University of Michigan survey released Friday showed the final reading of the index of consumer sentiment was 84.9 in March, up from 76.8 in February. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a reading of 83.7.
The Dow and the S&P 500 are on track to eke out small gains for the week after back-to-back gains. The Nasdaq is still lower on the week, however. The rally to record highs has slowed down in recent weeks amid rising interest rates and valuation concerns.
“The market has felt like more of a grind lately, and this may become more of the norm as we enter year two of the recovery,” said Larry Adam, chief investment officer at Raymond James. “These periods, like most, do not move in straight lines, as drawdowns will occur along the way. This is not troubling, but investors should expect some weakness and take advantage as it occurs.”
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a new goal of having 200 million Covid vaccination shots being distributed within his first 100 days in office. As of Friday, 100 million coronavirus vaccinations had been given since Biden was inaugurated.