Stocks rise in early trading, keeping S&P 500 near record

Stocks edged higher in early trading on Wall Street Wednesday as investors continue to assess rising inflation and its potential impact on the economic recovery.

The modest gains put the S&P 500 just below the record high it set more than a week ago. The benchmark index has so far recovered all its losses from last week, when the Federal Reserve’s comments on eventually tapering its support for the economy raised anxiety levels in the markets.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2% as of 10:09 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4 points, or less than 0.1%, to 33,949 points and the Nasdaq rose 0.4%.

Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other energy companies were among the biggest gainers helping to push the market higher as crude oil prices rose 1.3%. Cruise lines, hotels and casinos were among some of the companies that rely on direct consumer spending also making solid gains.

There is still a lot of churn within the broader markets. Slightly more stocks were rising than falling within the S&P 500. Health care companies were among the sectors sliding lower.

On Tuesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank still believes the current increases in inflation will prove to be temporary. Prices for commodities, cars, and a range of other goods have been rising as demand outpaces supply amid a quickly recovering economy. The central bank has said that will eventually level off and ease rising inflation.

Investors are concerned that if the Fed is wrong and higher inflation is longer lasting, the central bank will then have to ease up on its support for the economy, which include slowing its $120 billion of monthly bond purchases, which are helping to keep mortgages and other longer-term borrowing cheap.

Investors will get another piece of data on Friday to gauge rising inflation when the Commerce Department releases its personal income and spending report for May.

Bond yields were relatively steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.48% from 1.47% late Tuesday.

Homebuilders slipped following a report that showed sales of new homes in May fell short of economists forecasts. Lennar fell 2.4% and D.R. Horton fell 2%.

European markets were mostly lower. The DAX in Germany slipped 0.5%, the CAC 40 in France fell 0.4%. The FTSE 100 in London rose 0.4%. Asian markets were mixed.