US stocks rally the most since March as momentum builds

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Stocks rallied on Wall Street Thursday as the market shook off several days of wobbly trading. The S&P 500 jumped 1.7%, its biggest gain since March. The wave of buying built on momentum from a day earlier, when the market broke a three-day losing streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.6%, while the Nasdaq rose 1.7%. Health care stocks did especially well, led by a 4.2% gain in UnitedHealth Group after the leading health insurer easily beat analysts’ earnings forecasts and raised its outlook. Apple and Microsoft each rose more than 2%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.52%.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Stocks rose broadly on Wall Street Thursday as the market builds momentum a day after breaking a three-day losing streak.

The S&P 500 rose 1.6% as of 3:29 p.m. Eastern. More than 90% of stocks within the benchmark index gained ground, and it is now on track for a weekly gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 501 points, or 1.5%, to 34,881 and the Nasdaq rose 1.7%.

Health care stocks made some of the strongest gains. UnitedHealth Group jumped 4.1% after raising its profit forecast for the year following a strong third-quarter. Technology stocks also did a lot of heavy lifting. Apple rose 1.9% and Microsoft rose 2%.

This is the first big week for companies reporting their most recent quarterly financial results and investors have had mixed reactions so far to the latest round of bank earnings. Bank of America rose 4.1% after beating analysts’ forecasts. Wells Fargo also beat forecasts, but it fell 2.2% as profits from lending fell compared with a year ago.

Investors are also reviewing the latest data on jobs and inflation as they try to gauge the economy’s health and path forward.

The Labor Department said the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level since the pandemic began. It’s a positive sign for a job market that is still trying to recover from the initial hit from the pandemic 18 months ago. A surge of cases over the summer stunted the recovery.

The latest report on inflation showed that businesses continue to face pressure from rising costs. The Labor Department said inflation at the wholesale level rose 8.6% in September compared to a year ago, the largest advance since the 12-month change was first calculated in 2010.

Rising inflation has been raising costs for consumer goods. Analysts are concerned that could affect how much people spend and slow down the economic recovery. Investors will get an update on spending Friday when the Commerce Department reports retail sales for September.

Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.51% from 1.55% late Wednesday.

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