U.S. Stocks Mostly Higher After Early Volatility

Stocks are mostly higher in afternoon trading on Thursday after seeing considerable volatility earlier in the session. After ending the previous session little changed, the major averages have all moved to the upside.

Currently, the major averages are off their highs of the session but still in positive territory. The Nasdaq is up 131.98 points or 1.2 percent at 11,445.33, the S&P 500 is up 26.99 points or 0.7 percent at 4,043.21 and the Dow is up 125.83 points or 0.4 percent at 33,869.67.

The strength on Wall Street comes following the release of some upbeat U.S. economic data, including a Commerce Department report showing U.S. economic activity surged by more than expected in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The report said real gross domestic product shot up by 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter after spiking by 3.2 percent in the third quarter. Economists had expected GDP to jump by 2.6 percent.

The stronger than expected GDP growth reflected increases in private inventory investment, consumer spending, government spending, and non-residential fixed investment.

Meanwhile, the positive contributions were partly offset by decreases in residential fixed investment and exports.

The Labor Department also released a report showing initial jobless claims unexpectedly dipped to a nine-month low in the week ended January 21st.

The data paints a relatively positive picture of the economy but has also raised concerns about the outlook for interest rates ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve meeting.

The advance by the tech-heavy Nasdaq also comes amid a surge by shares of Telsa (TSLA), with the electric vehicle maker soaring by 9.4 percent after reporting better than expected fourth quarter results and provided upbeat guidance.

On the other hand, IBM Corp. (IBM) is posting a steep loss even though the tech giant reported fourth quarter results that beat expectations. The company also announced plans to cut 3,900 jobs.

Sector News

Oil stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Oil Index up by 2.3 percent to a two-month intraday high.

The rally by oil stocks comes amid a sharp increase by the price of crude oil, with crude for March delivery jumping $1.08 to $81.23 a barrel.

Significant strength is also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.2 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index has reached its best intraday level in nine months.

Computer hardware stocks also continue to turn in a strong performance, resulting in a 2.1 percent surge by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Data storage company Seagate Technology (STX) has helped lead the sector higher after reporting better than expected fiscal second quarter results.

Software and semiconductor stocks are also seeing notable strength in afternoon trading, while gold and pharmaceutical stocks have moved to the downside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged by 2.4 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi jumped by 1.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have bounced back near the unchanged line after seeing early weakness. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by less than a basis point at 3.463 percent.

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