U.S. stock indexes perked up Thursday after a nearly weeklong lull, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose for the first time in five days.
NIndustrial and technology companies helped lead the way as broad swaths of the market climbed. Nearly two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, and the price of crude oil clawed back some of its sharp loss from Wednesday.
The S&P 500 rose 7.71 points to 2,636.98, snapping its longest losing streak since March. Losses through that span were modest, though, with the index down only 0.7%.
The Dow Jones industrials average rose 70.57 points to 24,211.48. The
The gains were a return to form for a stock market that has been climbing on expectations that Washington will push through an overhaul of the tax system. The Senate passed its proposal over the weekend, and its plan would create slightly different winners and losers among corporate taxpayers than the House of Representatives' version. This week, investors have been trying to shift to the areas of the market they see ultimately benefiting the most, which led to some ups and downs.
Stocks may continue to drift until investors get more clarity on what the final tax proposal will be, said Tom Stringfellow, chief investment officer at Frost Investment Advisors.
"The market has already been bid up on anticipation of this, and the real test will be what do both houses come up with and what is put on the president's desk to sign," he said.
In the meantime, a strengthening global economy and climbing corporate earnings are supporting stock prices.
"We have seen so many positives flow through, from Europe to Asia to global trade," Stringfellow said. "It's just those wild cards out there," such as a potential conflict with North Korea, that worry investors.
Technology stocks were some of the market's better performers, shaking off an uncharacteristic weak stretch. The industry stumbled this week on expectations that it will benefit less from lower tax rates than financial companies, retailers and other areas of the market.
Tech stocks in the S&P 500 rose 0.6% on Thursday, trimming their loss for the week to 0.3%. They are up nearly 36% for the year, double the overall S&P 500's gain.
Energy stocks recovered some of their losses from Wednesday as the price of oil ticked higher.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 73 cents to $56.69 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 98 cents, or 1.6%, to $62.20 a barrel in London. That helped energy stocks in the S&P 500 rise 0.3%.
More evidence that the job market is strengthening arrived in a government report showing that fewer workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. The numbers are considered a proxy for layoffs, and they offer an encouraging sign that the U.S. labor market continues to improve.
On Friday, the government will release its closely watched monthly jobs report. If it shows as much strength in November hiring as economists expect, the Federal Reserve probably will be on track to raise interest rates at its meeting next week. It would be the third rate increase of the year.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.36% from 2.34%.
The dollar rose to 113.13 yen from 112.28 yen. The euro fell to $1.774 from $1.1793. The British pound rose to $1.3465 from $1.3375.
In the commodities markets, gold fell $13 to settle at $1,253.10 an ounce, silver fell 15 cents to $15.80 an ounce and copper was close to flat at $2.96 a pound.
Natural gas fell 16 cents to $2.76 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil rose 4 cents to $1.90 a gallon and wholesale gasoline rose 4 cents to $1.70 a gallon.
In stock markets overseas, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.4%, recovering somewhat from its worst day since March — on Wednesday, it dropped 2%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.3%. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.5%. Germany's DAX rose 0.4%, the FTSE 100 in London fell 0.4% and France's CAC 40 gained 0.2%.
3:15 p.m.: This article was updated for closing prices, context and analyst comment.