Stocks notch gains, snap losing streak
Gains in energy and internet companies helped drive stocks broadly higher on Wall Street Thursday, snapping a two-day losing streak for the market in an otherwise choppy week of trading.
The gains were initially fueled by rising oil prices, which boosted energy companies following a suspected attack on two oil tankers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The sector sustained its gains as a mix of media, internet and consumer-oriented companies took the lead in pushing every major index higher. Small company stocks rose more than the rest of the market.
Investors have been searching for direction as they cautiously await any new developments on the global trade war between the U.S. and China. Any continued escalations could crimp global economic growth and put the brakes on what is poised to be the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.
Anticipation of next week’s Federal Reserve meeting of policyholders helped lift the market Thursday, said Jeff Zipper, managing director at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.
“You’ve got two competing forces here right now,” Zipper said. “The lingering issue of when is this trade tariff deal going to get resolved, and a more dovish Fed.”
Last week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell set off a market rally after he signaled that the central bank is willing to cut interest rates to help stabilize the economy if the trade war between Washington and Beijing starts to crimp growth.
The S&P 500 index rose 11.80 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,891.64. The benchmark index has been seesawing this week, opening strong on Monday, and then falling for two straight days before reversing course again on Thursday. The uneven week follows the index’s best week of 2019.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 101.94 points, or 0.4 percent, to 26,106.77. The Nasdaq composite added 44.41 points, or
0.6 percent, to 7,837.13. The Russell
2000 index of small company stocks climbed 16.01 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,535.80.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to
2.10 percent from 2.12 percent late Wednesday.
U.S. stock indexes rebounded early on Thursday as oil prices surged on news of a suspected attack on two oil tankers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The incident in the Strait of Hormuz comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. One third of all oil traded by sea, which amounts to 20 percent of oil traded worldwide, passes through the strait. The U.S. blamed Iran in what it called a campaign of “escalating tensions” in a region crucial to global energy supplies.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 2.2 percent to settle at $52.28 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, added 2.2 percent to close at $61.31 a barrel. The gains come at a time when oil prices have been falling on signs demand is declining.
Analysts questioned whether the gains can hold. Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch & Associates said in a note to clients the jump is factoring in a worst case scenario and oil is “apt to relinquish the bulk of gains as additional details emerge.”