After moving mostly higher early in the session, stocks continued to turn in a strong performance throughout much of the trading day on Thursday. The major averages moved back to the upside following the downturn seen on Wednesday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the rebound.
The Nasdaq jumped 193.28 points or 1.4 percent to 14,339.99, reaching its best closing level in over four months. The S&P 500 also advanced 36.25 points or 0.8 percent to 4,585.59, while the narrower Dow posted a more modest gain, edging up 62.95 points or 0.2 percent to 36,117.38.
The strength on Wall Street partly reflected ongoing optimism about the outlook for interest rates ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.
Economists currently expect employment to increase by 180,000 jobs in November after rising by 150,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 3.9 percent.
The jobs report could have a significant impact on the outlook for interest rates ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting next week.
While the Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, traders will be looking to the jobs data to provide further evidence the central bank could cut rates as soon as March 2024.
A day ahead of the release of the monthly jobs report, the Labor Department released a report showing a slight uptick in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended December 2nd.
The report said initial jobless claims ticked up to 220,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 219,000.
Economist had expected jobless claims to rise to 222,000 from the 218,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Semiconductor stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up by 2.8 percent.
Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) moved sharply higher after Meta (META), Microsoft (MSFT) and OpenAI said they will use the company’s newest AI chip, the Instinct MI300X.
Substantial strength was also visible among airline stocks, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 2.6 percent to its best closing level in almost four months.
Computer hardware, banking and housing stocks also saw considerable strength, while gold and oil stocks moved to the downside.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 1.8 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid by 0.7 percent.
The major European markets showed more modest moves to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index closed just below the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index dipped by 0.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries recovered from early weakness to end the session roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by less than a basis point to 4.129 percent after reaching a high of 4.182 percent.
While the monthly jobs report is likely to be in the spotlight on Friday, a report on consumer sentiment in the month of December may also attract attention, as it includes readings on inflation expectations.
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