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Stock Market Today: Stocks Edge Higher as Earning Season Winds Down

US stocks popped higher this Wednesday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) gaining 0.4%, settling at 38,521.36. The S&P 500 (SPX) climbed 0.7%, closing at 4,954.23, inching closer to the historic 5,000 mark. The Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) advanced 0.8%, finishing the day at 17,572.73. Investors are carefully weighing fresh, quarterly earnings all while navigating the ongoing debate surrounding potential interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

Earnings Season in Focus

With two-thirds of S&P 500 companies having reported their quarterly results, investors analyzed the overall performance of the earnings season. While results have generally exceeded expectations, some areas proved to be disappointing.

Alibaba (BABA) shares dropped over 5% after missing revenue targets, despite announcing a hefty $25 billion share buyback program. Meanwhile, Snap (SNAP) plunged over 34% after falling short on its current quarter profit forecast.

Upcoming earnings reports, including Disney (DIS) scheduled for later today, continue to hold investor attention.

Fed Rate Cut Debate Heats Up

Despite hopeful yearnings for rate cuts in March, Federal Reserve officials continued to reiterate the possibility of adjustments "later this year," emphasizing the need for further evidence of inflation cooling off.

Boston Fed President Susan Collins echoed this sentiment, stating that while cuts could come later in 2024, she requires more assurance of inflation control before considering policy changes. This aligns with recent statements from Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other officials, tempering earlier market expectations for aggressive rate cuts.

Growing concerns about regional banks and the real estate sector emerged after New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) received a downgraded credit rating and its shares experienced a significant decline.

While stock markets remain cautiously optimistic due to ongoing earnings reports and the upcoming Disney earnings, uncertainty surrounding the Fed's monetary policy actions and potential economic headwinds continues to cast a shadow of uncertainty.

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