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* Bitcoin bounces after weekend selling lifts crypto stocks
* Fed’s preferred inflation gauge set for Thursday
* Cabot, Cimarex to merge, create $17 bln oil & gas producer
* Dow up 0.75%, S&P 500 up 1.25%, Nasdaq up 1.64% (Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)
NEW YORK, May 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Monday, with both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rallying more than 1% as a pullback in U.S. Treasury yields helped lift expensive stocks in sectors such as technology as investors attempt to gauge the path of inflation.
Among the 11 major S&P sectors, technology advanced about 2% as the best performing on the session, as yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond hit a two-week low.
Inflation concerns cooled for the time being as investors may be starting to view President’s Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill as likely to be smaller, or unable to provide as big an economic boost, even after being pared down in size on Friday.
“The reason interest rates are coming down is because many on Wall Street are questioning how successful President Biden will be in pushing through that stimulus package, or pushing through as big an infrastructure package as he is hoping,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.
“Yields are coming down because inflation worries are coming down and as a result we are finding that tech stocks are becoming a bit more attractive once again.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 256.05 points, or 0.75%, to 34,463.89, the S&P 500 gained 51.82 points, or 1.25%, to 4,207.68 and the Nasdaq Composite added 220.65 points, or 1.64%, to 13,691.64.
Tech giants Apple and Microsoft, each up about 2% on the day, were the biggest boosts to the benchmark S&P index. The sector has been among the worst performing for the month and year to date as inflation concerns have grown and bond yields have moved higher.
Equity markets have grown volatile in recent weeks as investors weigh strong economic data and fears that supply bottlenecks could lead to a prolonged period of higher prices, which would in turn force the Federal Reserve to scale back its massive monetary stimulus.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Tuesday he expects the inflation rate to be above 2% both this year and next.
After falling as much as 4.3% from its May 7 record intraday high, the S&P 500 is now less than 1% off that level as investors begun to buy technology stocks that have come under pressure in a rising rate environment.
The release of U.S. personal consumption data on Thursday, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, will be a highlight of the economic data published this week.
Risk sentiment also improved as cryptocurrencies recovered some losses after a weekend selloff fueled by further signs of a Chinese crackdown on the emerging sector.
Cabot Oil & Gas Corp and Cimarex Energy Co agreed to merge to form a U.S. oil and gas producer with an enterprise value of about $17 billion, the latest deal in a sector rebounding from one of its worst downturns.
Shares of Cabot and Cimarex fell 7.4% and 8.0%, while the broader energy index firmed 1.1% as oil prices rose 3%.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.15-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 95 new highs and 34 new lows.
Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Aurora Ellis