Stocks climb after three days of losses, led by Big Tech

Business

Stocks were posting strong gains in afternoon trading Thursday, following three days of losses and the biggest one-day drop in the S&P 500 since February.

Technology stocks, which were hurt badly earlier in the week, were among the bigger gainers. Apple, Microsoft and Google’s parent company were all up 1% or more.

The S&P 500 was up 1.3% as of 2:25 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 494 points, or 1.5%, to 34,085 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 0.7%. It’s not uncommon for markets to reverse direction after sharp gains or losses over a period of days as investors reassess markets and pause during period of volatility.

“Investors have kind of gotten conditioned about when there’s volatility and when there are pullbacks: step in and buy the dip, and you will be rewarded in short order,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

Recent economic reports have left many investors uneasy. Last week’s jobs report showed fewer employers hiring than had been expected, and on Thursday the government reported that wholesale prices jumped 0.6% last month, driven by higher costs for services and food. That was more than expected and the latest indication that inflation pressures are mounting.

Rising prices reflect growing economic activity after last year’s global shutdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic. However investors worry inflation might disrupt the recovery or prompt central banks to withdraw stimulus and near-zero interest rates.

“The capital markets are clearly grappling in a tug of war,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

Investors have been questioning whether rising inflation will be something transitory, as the Federal Reserve has said, or something more durable that the Fed will have to address. Currently, the central bank has maintained low interest rates in order to help the economic recovery, but concerns are growing that it will have to shift its position if inflation starts running too hot.

“Is there something more durable being embedded within rising prices? The next several months will not likely resolve this debate,” Northey said.

Bond yields rose sharply this week in response to the data but pulled back slightly on Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 1.66% compared to 1.70% the day before.

In other markets, the price for Bitcoin plunged 11% after billionaire Elon Musk changed his position on the digital currency, citing the environmental impact. He said Tesla Motors would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for its cars.

Crude oil prices fell 3.5% after a key gasoline pipeline on the East Coast was reopened late Wednesday. The price of crude oil is now down slightly for the week. Energy companies lagged the market as prices fell. Occidental Petroleum slid 5.4%.

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