Wall Street Opens Higher; Moderna Shines After S&P 500 Inclusion. U.S. stocks started Friday on a strong note

By Geoffrey Smith 

U.S. stocks started Friday on a strong note, with all three main indices rising after retail sales data for June showed the U.S. consumer still spending freely. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 27 points, or 0.1%, while the S&P 500 was up 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.4%. They’re on track for their fourth straight weekly gain. 

Earlier, the Census Bureau said retail sales had risen by 0.6% in June, well ahead of the 0.4% decline expected. May’s data were revised to show a drop of 1.7%, slightly larger than the one originally reported. The figures showed spending on food services continuing to rise strongly, while sales of autos weakened amid a shortage of available cars due supply chain problems.

James Knightley, chief international economist with ING, said the numbers point to continued retail sales growth in the coming months, despite the fact that economic reopening will give consumers more freedom to spend on experiences and services that aren’t captured by the data. “After all, consumer finances remain in great shape with incomes picking up and credit card borrowing having been paid down,” Kinghtley said.

However, the subsequent release of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey also showed that people are starting to fret about inflation, which hit its highest rate in over 12 years in June. Expectations for inflation over the next year rose to 4.8% from 4.2% a month ago. The survey’s main sentiment index fell, surprisingly, to its lowest level since January.

In early dealings, Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) stock stood out with a 6.3% leap to a new record high after news that it will be included in the S&P 500 from next week, replacing Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN). 

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) stock also stood out, rising 1.5% after The Wall Street Journal reported that it is in talks to buy chipmaker GlobalFoundries for some $30 billion. That would be Intel’s biggest ever acquisition and a big step towards its aim of becoming a major supplier of chips to other semiconductor companies.

Elsewhere, Didi Global ADRs (NYSE:DIDI) inched lower after reports of a large-scale visit to its office from various government agencies carrying out the review into its data policies. However, they were comfortably off their premarket lows.  Ericsson (BS:ERICAs) ADRs (NASDAQ:ERIC) fell 9.8% meanwhile, after a disappointing quarterly update that showed it losing ground in the market for 5G networks in China. It’s on course for a 7% drop this week, while Nokia (NYSE:NOK), its big Finnish rival, is up over 5% after reporting better numbers.

On the downside, Membership Collective  (NYSE:MCG), the company behind the Soho House chain of private members’ clubs, fell another 6.9% after a drop of nearly 10% on its debut on Thursday. The loss-making company had priced its IPO at the bottom of the marketing range earlier in the week.

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