U.S. Stocks Extend See-Saw Performance With Strong Move To The Upside

Stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday, offsetting the pullback seen in the previous sessions. With the strong move back to the upside, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 ended the session at their best closing levels in over a month.

The major averages all reached new highs going into the close of trading. The Dow jumped 349.33 points or 1 percent to 34,707.94, the Nasdaq surged 269.24 points or 1.9 percent to 14,191.84 and the S&P 500 shot up 63.92 points or 1.4 percent to 4,520.16.

The rebound on Wall Street came as stocks extended the see-saw performance shown by the markets over the past few sessions.

The volatility seen in recent sessions comes as traders express some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following the recovery rally seen last week.

The major averages climbed well off their recent lows last week but have had some trouble sustaining the rebound amid continued concerns about the Russia-Ukraine war, inflation and interest rates.

Traders also kept an eye on any developments out of Europe, where President Joe Biden is meeting with U.S. allies in Brussels.

The Biden administration has imposed additional sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, targeting dozens of Russian defense companies, 328 members of the Russian State Duma, and the head of Russia’s largest financial institution.

With Europe depending heavily on Russian gas for heating and power generation, the European Union is split on whether to sanction Russia’s energy sector.

Buying interest may also have been generated in reaction to a Labor Department report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level in over 50 years in the week ended March 19th.

The report showed initial jobless claims slid to 187,000, a decrease of 28,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 215,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 212,000 from the 214,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 182,000 in September 1969.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the Commerce Department showed new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods tumbled by much more than expected in the month of February amid a sharp pullback in orders for transportation equipment.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders slumped by 2.2 percent in February after jumping by 1.6 percent in January. Economists had expected durable goods orders to dip by 0.5 percent.

Excluding the steep drop in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders fell by 0.6 percent in February after climbing by 0.8 percent in January. The decrease surprised economists, who had expected ex-transportation orders to rise by 0.6 percent.

Sector News

Semiconductor stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up by 5.1 percent to its best closing level in over a month.

Nvidia (NVDA) helped to lead the sector higher, spiking by 9.8 percent amid a positive analyst reaction to the graphics chipmaker’s investor-day presentation on Wednesday.

Steel stocks also turned in a strong performance, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index surging up by 2.6 percent to its best closing level in almost eleven years.

Significant strength also emerged among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 2.4 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index. The index also reached a one-month closing high.

Networking, chemical and airline stocks also saw considerable strength on the day, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid by 0.6 percent.

The major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries climbed off their worst levels of the session but remained in negative territory. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 2 basis points to 2.341 percent after reaching a high of 2.386 percent.

Looking Ahead

Reports on consumer sentiment and pending home sales may attract attention on Friday, while traders are also likely to keep an eye on comments by several Fed officials

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