Wall Street Drifts Higher Ahead Of Pivotal Profit Report From Nvidia

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street is drifting Wednesday ahead of a profit report that could show whether the frenzy this year around artificial-intelligence technology is deserved or overdone.

The S&P 500 was 0.3% higher in early trading and holding steadier for now amid what's been a dismal August. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 73 points, or 0.2%, at 34,362, as of 9:43 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.4% higher.

Advance Auto Parts rallied 3.5% for one of the larger gains in the S&P 500. It named a new CEO and stronger revenue for the spring than analysts expected, though its profit fell short.

Foot Locker tumbled 34.8% after reporting weaker profit for the latest quarter than expected. It also paused its dividend and cut its financial forecasts for the full year, describing a "still-tough consumer backdrop."

The market's main event for the day will come after trading ends, when Nvidia will report how much it made during the spring. Expectations are immense after the chip maker stunned Wall Street three months ago by predicting it would make roughly $11 billion in revenue during the three months through July. That was nearly $4 billion more than analysts had been forecasting and would be a 64% leap from its numbers a year earlier.

The announcement set off a rush across Wall Street. Stocks of AI-related companies soared, and investors tried to count how many times a CEO could mention "AI" in an earnings call. Nvidia's stock has more than tripled this year so far, and it will need to meet the much higher expectations around it to justify its big move.

Much of Wall Street is expecting Nvidia's earnings report to meet forecasts, and its stock has already climbed roughly 5% this week in anticipation of it. Because Nvidia is one of the stock market's largest companies, its moves pack more weight on the S&P 500 and other indexes than smaller stocks.

When it releases its earnings, the focus will also be on whether Nvidia gives a forecast for its revenue in the current quarter. Expectations for that are even bigger. Analysts are forecasting its third-quarter revenue will more than double to $12.59 billion from a year earlier.

Nvidia and a just a handful of other companies were behind the majority of the S&P 500's gains earlier this year. Many of those "Magnificent Seven" stocks were benefiting from the AI frenzy as well.

They've been under more pressure recently, as yields crank higher in the bond market. When bonds are paying more in interest, investors feel less need to pay high prices for stocks and other investments that can swing sharply in price.

Treasury yields eased Wednesday, taking off some of that pressure. The 10-year Treasury yield fell back from its highest level since 2007, down to 4.24% from 4.33% late Tuesday.

It's been mostly rising for months as a surprisingly resilient U.S. economy raises expectations for the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates higher for longer. The Fed has already hiked its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001 in hopes of grinding down high inflation.

High rates work by slowing the entire economy and hurting prices for investments, and they've helped inflation to ease since it peaked above 9% last summer. But a still-solid job market and spending by U.S. households threaten to make it difficult for inflation to come down the last percentage point to the Fed's target of 2%.

That's why the main event of the week for markets could be a speech on Friday by Fed Chair Jerome Powell. He will be speaking at a Jackson Hole, Wyoming, event that's been the setting for major policy announcements by the Fed in the past.

The hope among traders has been that the Fed has already hiked rates for the final time this cycle and that it will begin cutting rates early next year. But such hopes have been diminishing with each stronger-than-expected report on the economy that's come in recently.

The two-year Treasury yield, which closely tracks expectations for the Fed, has also jumped recently, though it eased back like the 10-year yield on Wednesday. It fell to 4.96% from 5.05%.

In markets abroad, stock indexes were mixed across Europe and Asia.


AP Business Writers Yuri Kageyama and Matt Ott contributed.