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Nasdaq and S&P 500 soar to record highs as markets appear unsinkable

By Nicole Goodkind, CNN

New York (CNN) — The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index and S&P 500 broke records Thursday afternoon.

The Nasdaq closed at a new high of 16,091.92, about 35 points above its last closing high of 16,057.44, reached in November 2021, in the post-Covid economic boom before the Federal Reserve began raising rates.

The S&P 500, meanwhile, gained 0.5% to close at a new high of 5,096.27. It reached its last high earlier this month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day slightly higher, up 47 points, or 0.1%.

Thursday’s landmark moment came as shares of chipmakers and artificial intelligence stocks shot upwards, and after fresh data showed progress on inflation.

The Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, was up 2.4% for the 12 months that ended in January, a slowdown from December’s 2.6% increase, according to Commerce Department data released Thursday.

The news comes as the Fed holds interest rates at a 23-year high and looks to be in no rush to cut anytime soon.

Investors also cheered remarks made by Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee on Thursday.

“Even if inflation comes in a bit higher for a few months…it would still be consistent with our path back to target,” he said at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “I don’t support waiting until inflation on a 12-month basis has already achieved 2% to begin to cut rates.”

Markets, meanwhile, ended February on a high note. The S&P 500 was up 5.2% for the month, the Dow was 2.2% higher and the Nasdaq gained 6.1%.

All S&P 500 subsectors ended the month in positive territory. The index has now advanced for 16 of the last 18 weeks, tying the record for winning weeks last achieved in 1971, according to analysts at Deutsche Bank.

The Nasdaq Composite is up about XX% so far this year. The tech-centric index jumped XX% in 2023, with stocks rallying powerfully at year-end as chipmakers gained steam and as optimism grew that the Fed could achieve a soft landing, or tamp down inflation without triggering an economic downturn.

Nvidia, meanwhile, gained another 2.14% on Thursday and is up nearly 250% from one year ago.

Bitcoin also edged closer to its all-time high on Thursday. The digital currency briefly crossed the $64,000 mark as spot bitcoin ETFs have helped propel bitcoin to levels last seen in 2021.

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