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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.

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

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.

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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%.


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