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Dow Rises With Central Bank Policy in Focus, GameStop Pops—and What Else Happened in the Stock Market Today

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Central bank policy is top of mind for Wall Street.

Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The stock market eked out another gain Thursday, even after more hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and an interest rate hike from the European Central Bank.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 193 points, or 0.6%, while the S&P 500 gained 0.7%, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.6%. The indexes swung between gains and losses all day.

That comes after a gain on Wednesday, which saw all three major indexes rise more than 1% each. The stock market was pleased to see bond yields back down from their recent multiyear highs, which are still reflecting an increased probability that the Fed will lift the benchmark lending rate by three-quarters of a percent this month, rather than a half a percent. The central bank is prioritizing the fight against inflation over economic growth. 

Central banks are in focus, with the European Central Bank raising interest rates for a second consecutive meeting. The ECB matched the Fed’s latest hike, lifting rates by three-quarters of a percentage point to combat high inflation.

That moved the 2-year German bund yield up to 1.35%. That often causes U.S. government bond yields to rise. U.S. yields have long been higher than those in Europe, so when European yields rise, U.S. yields become slightly less attractive. That drives money out of U.S. bonds, forcing their prices down—and yields up. The U.S. 2-year yield is up to 3.49%.

“Today’s rate hike underscores the battle for global central banks in their campaign to extinguish inflation,” wrote Quincy Krosby, chief global economist at LPL Financial. 

Markets were also sifting through words from Powell, who spoke this morning at the Cato Institute. Powell struck a rather hawkish tone, saying that the Fed should not take its eye off lowering inflation too soon.

Still, the 2-year yield remains a touch below its multiyear high. That enabled the stock market to remain in the green for the day, as it signals that yields could be almost finished rising to reflect the Fed’s rate hikes.

Even when stock market dips—which it has done over the past few weeks —buyers have been quick to come in at a key level. That is 3900 for the S&P 500. That “support” level for the index has held up several times in the past few trading days, indicating that the index’s run this week could hold up. The index finished Thursday at just over 4000.

“The 3,900 level came into play last week and earlier this week, when declines found support in that region,” wrote Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers. 

While the index could hold its ground above that level for the next few days, the next real test for stocks comes on Sept. 13. That is when the August consumer price index comes out. Markets want to see that the rate of inflation continues to decline, as it did in July, gaining 8.5% year over year. If inflation keeps declining, markets will bet that the Fed will ease up on rate hikes soon. 

Already, the price of oil has taken a hit. WTI crude oil, up a tick Thursday, is below $83 a barrel. That is down 8% for the month of September. 

“All eyes will be on important inflation data releases next week before the Fed’s monetary policy decision on 21st September,” wrote Marilyn Watson, head of global fundamental fixed income strategy at BlackRock. 

Here are some stocks on the move Thursday:

GameStop (ticker: GME) popped 7.5% after the videogame retailer and retail investor-favorite reported a narrower-than-expected adjusted loss in its second fiscal quarter. GameStop reported an adjusted loss of 35 cents a share, less than the 42 cents a share loss eyeballed by analysts. But sales of $1.14 billion came in below Wall Street’s expectations of $1.27 billion.

Asana (ASAN) gained 24% after the work-management platform hiked its full-year revenue forecast to a range of $544 million to $547 million, above the $540 million upper bound of its previous guidance range. The stock was also lifted as CEO Dustin Moskovitz purchased $350 million worth of shares in a private placement.

American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) slumped 8.8% after the clothing retailer’s latest quarterly results revealed revenue in line with estimates but profit short of what analysts had been expecting. The company also suspended its quarterly dividend and detailed difficult demand trends in the current quarter.

Globalstar (GSAT) was down 20%. The company is the satellite operator for Apple’s (AAPL) new emergency satellite messaging services for the iPhone 14, revealed Wednesday.

Moderna (MRNA) stock gained 4.7% after getting upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank. 

Write to Jack Denton at jack.denton@dowjones.com and Jacob Sonenshine at jacob.sonenshine@barrons.com