The stock market finished higher after choppy trading on Thursday, with consumer and tech stocks leading the gains as investors seemed to ease off recent concerns about a potential economic slowdown triggered by surging inflation and rising rates.
Stocks bounced back after two consecutive days of losses: The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.3%, over 400 points, while the S&P 500 gained 1.8% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite 2.7%.
Markets erased earlier losses—with the Dow falling 300 points at one juncture—and turned positive later in the day as investors tried to brush off fears about Fed rate hikes leading to an economic slowdown, with shares of consumer and technology companies leading the gains on Thursday.
Shares of tech giant Microsoft jumped nearly 1% even after the company lowered its financial guidance for the current quarter, warning that earnings and revenue would fall short of analyst estimates.
Other tech stocks rallied on Thursday: Facebook-parent Meta’s shares rose by roughly 4% a day after COO Sheryl Sandberg announced she would be stepping down, while shares of Nvidia and Zoom each gained more than 5%.
Investors looking for clues about the central bank’s monetary policy tightening assessed the latest comments from Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard on Thursday, who told CNBC in an interview that it looks very unlikely that the current rate-hiking cycle will end anytime soon.
The latest National Employment Report from ADP, meanwhile, weighed on markets as data showed that private U.S. employers recorded their worst monthly job growth in over two years amid concerns about surging inflation.
“Stocks are playing a game of dizzy bat as traders remain divided with recession calls and on when the Fed could be in a position to pause their interest rate hikes,” says Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “Bearish sentiment remains overdone, and a lot of the upcoming profit warnings should mostly be already priced in,” he adds, predicting that “stocks should start to eventually push higher this summer as economic activity moderates.”
Stocks rebounded last week—posting their strongest weekly return since November 2020—to snap a seven-week losing streak last Friday. Despite the recent momentum, stocks still finished lower in May, as concerns about inflation and a potential economic slowdown continued to roil markets.
What To Watch For:
“We believe there will be substantial opportunity in stocks on the other side of this volatility and likely in the second half of the year,” says LPL Financial technical market strategist Scott Brown. “Very little about this market has changed from a technical standpoint and that makes us wary of calling the all-clear. . . . We believe a slight lean toward defensive sectors and away from the growth-oriented areas of this market still make sense.”