Here’s why the stock market had such a massive rally Thursday

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 26, 2023 in New York City. 

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Investors looked past what appeared to be a weak first-quarter GDP report Thursday and instead focused on the longer-term prospects for economic growth, interest rates and inflation.

The 1.1% annualized increase for the first quarter would have been stronger had it not been for an inventories drag, while a stronger-than-expected inflation reading may have been front-loaded to the early part of the year and not representative of where prices are heading.

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“The data are setting the Fed up nicely for next week’s meeting,” LPL chief economist Jeffrey Roach said. “As growth and inflation slow, the Fed can legitimately transition to a pause and then perhaps an outright cut in rates by the end of the year if the economy deteriorates.”

Following the release, traders solidified the chance for a quarter percentage point interest rate increase when the Federal Reserve meets next week. However, markets also still expect at least half a point worth of rate cuts before year-end and then much more aggressive reductions through 2024, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tracker.

Stocks rose sharply, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up more than 500 points heading into the final hour of trading Thursday.

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