The S&P 500 gained ground on Thursday, lifted by technology and energy shares, while a rise in weekly jobless claims suggested the labor market was slowing down.
Wall Street’s main indexes have come under pressure in recent days, with the benchmark index (.SPX) shedding 3.6% in the past five sessions on expectations of a longer rate-hike cycle and downbeat views on the economy from some top company executives.
However, investors drew some comfort on Thursday after data showed the number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits increased moderately last week, while unemployment rolls hit a 10-month high toward the end of November.
“More people are filing jobless claims, which shows labor forces are weakening a little bit,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.
“It’s just one data point that leads to the Fed cooling down their aggressive hikes, but it doesn’t change December’s 50 basis point (rate hike). The key is going to be the data between December and February as to what they do next.”
The report follows data last Friday that showed U.S. employers hired more workers than expected in November and increased wages, spurring fears that the Fed might stick to its aggressive stance as it attempts to tame decades-high inflation.
The producer price index and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey on Friday and November’s consumer price data next week will also be in focus ahead of Fed’s policy decision on Dec. 14.
Investors see a 91% chance that the U.S. central bank will hike the key benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 4.25-4.50%, with the rates peaking in May 2023 at 4.94%.
The U.S. central bank has raised its policy rate by 375 basis points this year in the fastest hikes since the 1980s.
This aggressive approach has stoked worries of a recession, with top executives of major U.S. financial institutions including JPMorgan, BlackRock and Citi forecasting a likely economic downturn in 2023.
Adding to the fears, the yield curve between the 2-year and 10-year Treasury notes has also widened in the recent days.
At 10:43 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was up 241.67 points, or 0.72%, at 33,839.59, the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 32.12 points, or 0.82%, at 3,966.04, and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was up 130.60 points, or 1.19%, at 11,089.15.
Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes rose, led by 1.5% gain in technology stocks (.SPLRCT).
Energy stocks (.SPNY) rose 0.6% as oil prices climbed following the easing of anti-COVID measures in China and delay in some tankers carrying Russian oil.
Salesforce Inc (CRM.N) slipped after Baird downgraded the software firm’s stock to “neutral”, while Rent the Runway Inc (RENT.O) jumped 33.9% after the clothing rental firm raised its 2022 revenue forecast.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.36-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.67-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 11 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 53 new highs and 132 new lows.