Wall Street Edges Higher at Open as Inflation Fears Ease a Little; Dow up 100 Pts

By Geoffrey Smith 

© Provided by Investing.com

Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened higher on Friday, as the inflation and rate hike fears of earlier in the week were offset by confidence in the ongoing strength of the economy. 

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By 9:45 AM ET (1445 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 102 points, or 0.3%. at 36,024 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were both up by less than 0.1%. As such all three are on course for their first down week in five.

The week is ending in subdued fashion after data earlier showed U.S. inflation running at its highest rate in 30 years. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment survey reflected that with a surprising and sharp fall in November, although the survey’s inflation expectations component only inched up to 4.9% from 4.8% and the 5-year inflation expectations component was unchanged at 2.9%. 

At the same time, the Labor Department reported that the number of job openings rose again in October, defying expectations for a modest decline. Vacancies are running at nearly 3 million above their pre-pandemic peak, as the service sector in particular scrambles for workers to meet reviving demand.

Among individual movers, Johnson&Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) stock rose 1.3% after announcing its intention to separate its consumer healthcare division from its pharmaceuticals and medical devices units, hoping that the market will value the two businesses more highly as separate entities. J&J’s current price-earnings multiple of 24 compares poorly to that of pure play pharma rivals (Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) stock, for example, currently trades at 40 times last year’s earnings).

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock fell another 2.9% after another SEC filing showed that CEO Elon Musk continued to sell stock, despite probably having raised enough to cover his imminent tax bill. Musk sold another 639,737 shares on Wednesday, according to a filing on Thursday. Musk indicated at the weekend he would sell some 10% of his overall holding, suggesting that he will still sell around another 12 million shares. 

Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN) stock continued to advance, however, building on its blockbuster IPO earlier in the week. The aspiring maker of electric delivery vans and pickup trucks rose 6.8% to a new high. 

That gives Rivian, backed by Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Ford, a valuation of $110 billion, implying an extraordinarily high level of expectation from the company that has yet to sell a vehicle. But elsewhere Friday, there was evidence of what may happen if it fails to live up to those expectations. Lordstown Motors stock fell 11% after it once again delayed deliveries of its planned trucks.  Both it and Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA), another aspiring electric truck maker, have lost 80% from their peaks. 

In other news, Farfetch (NYSE:FTCH) stock rose 16% after the luxury e-commerce platform said it was in talks to take a stake in Yoox (MI:YNAP) Net-A-Porter, a rival currently controlled by Switzerland’s Richemont (OTC:CFRUY). Marijuana stocks also continued their advance, as strong earnings from Sundial Growers added to excitement about the prospects of legaliization in the U.S. (even if that may now come with a federal excise duty). Sundial (NASDAQ:SNDL) stock was up 16% while Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) stock was up 7.3%.

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