Stock market news today: Stocks hit pause on rally as Fed doubts creep in

US stocks were struggling on Thursday to cling to gains from this week’s soaring rally as investors started to question the idea the Federal Reserve is poised to pivot away from interest-rate hikes.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) and the benchmark S&P 500 (^GSPC) hugged the flatline, while those on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) slipped almost 0.2%.

Stocks have climbed as investors became more convinced that cooling inflation is signaling to Fed policymakers that their work is done and they can ease back on tightening. The Dow has risen for four days in a row and closed Wednesday at its highest level since August.

Some on Wall Street now wonder whether market is overdoing its expectations of a shift, given the consumer resilience shown in Wednesday’s retail data and Target (TGT) earnings. Pimco CIO Daniel Ivascyn warned there was “too much enthusiasm” about rate cuts, saying “the inflation problem is far from being solved.”

Quarterly reports from Walmart (WMT) and Macy’s (M) due later should shed more light on consumer spending as earnings season winds down. Meanwhile, the weekly update on US jobless claims will be watched for any surprises.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s high-stakes meeting with China’s Xi Jinping wrapped Wednesday with the US leader welcoming progress in rebuilding ties between the superpowers. But economic differences remain, and Biden again described Xi as a “dictator.” China stocks declined Thursday, with at least one analyst attributing the moves in part to Biden’s remark.

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