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Stock market today: Wall Street hangs near records as it closes another winning week

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are hanging near record heights Friday, on track to close another winning week in their stunning rally since Halloween.

The S&P 500 was 0.4% higher in afternoon trading and could finish the day above the 5,000 level for the first time after briefly breaching it on Thursday. It’s heading for its 14th winning week in the last 15.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 76 points, or 0.2%, a day after setting its latest all-time high. The Nasdaq composite was 1.2% higher to pull within 0.8% of its record set in 2021, as of 1:45 p.m. Eastern time.

Wall Street’s rally got going with hopes that cooling inflation would get the Federal Reserve to dial down the pressure by cutting interest rates. Lately, such cuts look to be coming later than hoped because reports keep showing a remarkably solid economy. But that strength has in turn raised expectations for profits from companies, supporting stocks.

Cloudflare was the latest company to soar after reporting stronger profit than analysts expected for its latest quarter. The cloud-services company jumped 22.3% after it said it signed both its largest new customer and its largest renewal ever, despite an overall economic environment that “remains challenging to predict.”

Big Tech stocks were doing most of the market’s heavy lifting, as they’ve been for more than a year, in part on mania around artificial-intelligence technology. Nvidia, Microsoft and Amazon were three of the strongest forces lifting the S&P 500 after each rose at least 1%.

They helped offset a 2.9% drop for PepsiCo , which reported weaker revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It said growth is slowing because customers are getting back to their snacking and other behaviors from before the pandemic.

Expedia tumbled 18.6% despite also reporting stronger profit than expected. Analysts pointed to some forecasts by the company for measures for the first three months of 2024 that point to slower bookings growth. The company also announced a new CEO, Ariane Gorin, will take over in May.

Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of “Grand Theft Auto” and other video games, sank 7.5% after it reported weaker profit than expected. It also cut its forecast for results for its fiscal year, which ends at the close of March.

Profits have largely been coming in better than expected for big companies in the S&P 500 this reporting season, which passed its halfway point this week.

That has helped optimism rise on Wall Street, but contrarians say it might have gone too far and carried stocks to too expensive heights.

Traders are flowing into some riskier investments at a quick enough pace that a contrarian measure kept by Bank of America is leaning more toward “sell” now than “buy,” though it’s not at convincing levels. The measure tracks how much fear and greed are in the market, and it suggested buying in October when fear was at a convincing high.

In the bond market, Treasury yields were inching higher, but movements were calmer than earlier in the month when they were jumping as traders forcefully pushed out their forecasts for rate cuts.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.18% from 4.15% late Thursday.

In stock markets abroad, indexes were mixed. In Asia, several markets were shut for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 edged up by 0.1% after touching a 34-year high earlier in the day.

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