Live markets, Friday March 25, 2022

Technology companies led a broad rally in stocks on Wall Street on Thursday, reversing most of the previous day’s losses in major indexes and extending the market’s recent run of uneven trading.

The S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent, more than offsetting its drop the day before. More than 85 percent of shares in the benchmark index rose. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1 percent, while the Nasdaq Tech Composite rose 1.9 percent.

The latest gains brought the S&P 500 out of the red for the week. The Nasdaq is also on track for a weekly gain, while the Dow is down slightly for the week after the indices alternated between gains and losses in recent days.

“There’s a bit of a push and pull right now … and investors are just looking for direction,” said Darrell Cronk, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo’s wealth and investment management.

The S&P 500 rose 63.92 points to 4,520.16, while the Dow gained 349.44 points to 34,707.94. The Nasdaq rose 269.23 to 14,191.84.

Small company stocks also rose. The Russell 2000 rose 23.24 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,075.44.

Technology stocks accounted for most of the gains in the S&P 500, closely followed by communications companies. Many Big Tech companies have outsized stocks that tend to sway the broader market in either direction. Chipmaker Nvidia jumped 9.8 percent for the biggest gain in the S&P 500. Facebook parent Meta rose 2.9 percent.

Stock indices have been up and down after coming off a strong rally last week. Investors are trying to gauge how the economy and corporate profits will be affected this year as the Federal Reserve moves to raise interest rates to rein in rising inflation.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added more uncertainty to the global economic outlook, driving up energy and other commodity prices. The fluctuation in energy prices has been a push and pull factor for the stock market in general.

Crude oil prices fell on Thursday after rising a day earlier. Benchmark US crude fell 2.3 percent to settle at $112.34 a barrel. A barrel of Brent crude, the international standard, fell 2.1 percent to settle at $119.03. Overall, world oil prices are up more than 50 percent in 2022 due to persistently rising inflation and concerns about reduced supplies due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Investors from around the world had their eyes on NATO and European leaders, who held a summit on Thursday. The G-7 nations are restricting the use of gold by the Russian Central Bank in transactions and the US announced new sanctions against Russian individuals and entities.

Dozens of nations, including the US and much of Europe, say they are united in seeking to “radically” cut Russian oil and gas imports.

So far, the sanctions have destroyed the value of the ruble and caused the closure of Russia’s stock market almost a month ago. The stock market reopened on Thursday under tight restrictions to prevent the kind of massive sell-off that occurred before crushing financial and economic sanctions from Western nations.

Wall Street is monitoring the latest developments in the conflict as it tries to determine how much it could worsen inflation and potentially slow global economic growth. Businesses and consumers have faced rising costs for materials and goods, prompting central banks to raise interest rates to blunt the impact of inflation.

Bond yields have generally risen as the market braces for higher interest rates. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.36 percent from 2.31 percent on Wednesday.

“Markets are clearly signaling a slowdown in GDP growth and earnings growth,” Cronk said.

Investors received an encouraging update on the continuing recovery in the labor market. The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level in 52 years. The upbeat report comes on top of data from earlier this month that showed employers added a strong 678,000 jobs in February, the largest monthly total since July.

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