Good Evening. Stocks rose for the second day in a row on Friday as investors assessed the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the international response.
The S&P 500 increased by more than 2%, following a 1.5% gain on Thursday. The Dow and Nasdaq both added more than 1% intraday on Friday, building on Thursday’s gains. The Dow finished the day with a gain of almost 2.5%, marking its best day in 2022. The Nasdaq concluded the day with a gain of over 1.6%. New economic data revealed that personal expenditure in the United States increased more than predicted in January, even after accounting for an increase in inflation. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE), a frequently watched inflation indicator, increased at the quickest rate in 40 years, rising by 6.1%.
Even after accounting for price rises, consumer spending in the United States increased faster than predicted in January, indicating that the most important portion of the economy was holding up despite continuing inflationary pressures.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), personal spending increased by 2.1% in January. According to Bloomberg consensus estimates, this was significantly above the 1.6% increase projected, and it helped to reverse a 0.8% monthly dip in expenditure in December.
Real personal spending again outperformed expectations, growing 1.5% vs the 1.2% expected for the month.
The most recent consumer spending data coincided with the Commerce Department’s earlier this month issued better-than-expected January retail sales report. That data showed a month-over-month gain of 3.8%, much above the predicted 2% growth at the time.
Personal income also remained steady in January, following a 0.4% increase in December, according to BEA statistics released Friday. Even so, this was better than the expected 0.3% dip.
President Joe Biden announced that he will nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, an historic appointment that would provide a new liberal voice to the court while maintaining its conservative bent.
Biden remarked on Twitter that Jackson is “one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice”.
The appointment will be Biden’s first to a court whose conservative majority is likely to make big legal changes, including increasing gun rights, reducing government regulatory authority, and removing the constitutional right to abortion. Jackson might not change the court’s ideological balance, but she will strengthen the three-justice liberal wing and potentially serve for decades.
Jackson’s nomination, if successful, could provide Biden a much-needed electoral lift as he faces low approval ratings and the possibility of Republican control of Congress in November’s mid-term elections.