US stocks closed modestly higher at the end of a torpid week marked with few market-moving catalysts and persistent concerns over whether current inflation spikes could linger and cause the US Federal Reserve to tighten its dovish policy sooner than expected.
The Nasdaq gained the most among the three major indexes, while the bellwether S&P 500 squeaked its way to a second straight record closing high.
For the week, the S&P and the Nasdaq advanced from last Friday's close, while the Dow posted a small weekly loss.
The indexes have been range-bound, with few catalysts to move investor sentiment. Much of the focus centered on Thursday's consumer price data, which eased jitters over the duration of the current inflation wave.
"It’s a muted day today," Oliver Pursche, senior vice president at Wealthspire Advisors, in New York. "The summer is settling in, people are slipping out of work early and there’s nothing in the news that’s going to materially drive the market in either direction."
"So, investors are going to wait until earnings season."
The Federal Reserve has repeatedly said that near-term price surges will not metastasize into lasting inflation, an assertion reflected in the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment report released on Friday, which showed inflation expectations easing from last month's spike.
Investors now turn their attention to the Fed's statement at the conclusion of next week's two-day monetary policy meeting, which will be parsed for clues regarding the central bank's timetable for raising key interest rates.
"Our view continues to be that inflationary data is transient and we will be around the 2 percent mark for the year," Pursche added.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.04 percent, to 34,480, the S&P 500 gained 0.19 percent to 4,247 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.35 percent, to 14,069. (Reuters)