Stocks pull mostly higher, shaking off some early wobbles

The New York Stock Exchange is framed by the columns at Federal Hall National Memorial.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.5% to 3,909.52 after a rocky start Thursday.
(Associated Press)

Stocks regained their footing after an early slide and closed broadly higher Thursday, led by gains in financial and industrial companies.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.5% after having been down 0.9% in the early going. The gain is the benchmark index’s first in three days after a recent stretch of back-and-forth trading the last few weeks. Even so, the S&P 500 was still on track for a small weekly loss.

Banks and industrial companies powered much of the market’s late-afternoon turnaround, offsetting weakness in Microsoft, Netflix, Facebook and other Big Tech stocks. Treasury yields initially eased, then edged higher after encouraging reports on weekly jobless claims and fourth-quarter U.S. economic growth.

The S&P 500 rose 20.38 points to 3,909.52. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 199.42 points, or 0.6%, to 32,619.48. The index had been down more than 348 points.


Some businesses cut hours, services and staff, or closed altogether. But many have survived beyond their expectations.

March 17, 2021

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite had been down 1.4% before clawing back and closing up 15.79 points, or 0.1%, to 12,977.68. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks outdid the rest of the market, climbing 48.86 points, or 2.3%, to 2,183.12.

The market has been mostly tumbling in place recently, with support for stocks coming from expectations that the economy will soar soon thanks to COVID-19 vaccinations and huge amounts of spending by Washington. A quick rise in interest rates has undercut stocks at the same time, though.

Yields in the Treasury market rose Thursday, but at a modest pace after the 10-year yield surged above 1.70% last week, its highest level since before the pandemic started. The 10-year Treasury yield, which helps set rates for all kinds of loans, rose to 1.63%, from 1.61% late Wednesday.

The Labor Department said the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits eased to its lowest level since before the pandemic erupted a year ago. Another report said the U.S. economy grew at a faster pace at the end of 2020 than earlier estimated.

Big Tech stocks swung back and forth in earlier trading and were nearly evenly split within the broader S&P 500 index. Microsoft fell 1.3%, while Hewlett Packard Enterprise rose 3.9%. Netflix dropped 3.4% and Facebook lost 1.2%.