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February 21, 2024
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Stocks rise broadly as indexes hover around record highs

Stocks rose broadly in morning trading on Wall Street Thursday and put major indexes on a path to push past record highs.

The S&P 500 rose 0.6% as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern. Roughly 80% of stocks in the benchmark index made gains and it is hovering above the record close it set on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 152 points, or 0.4%, to 35,641 and is also on track to top the record close it set on Tuesday. The Nasdaq rose 0.7%.

Smaller stocks outpaced the broader market in a sign that investors are more confident about economic growth. The Russell 2000 rose 1.4%.

Technology stocks led the gains. KLA, which makes equipment for manufacturing semiconductors, rose 5.7% after beating Wall Street’s fiscal first-quarter profit forecasts. Apple, which reports its financial results later Thursday, rose 2.1%.

Bond yields edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.56% from 1.53%. Banks, which rely on higher bond yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans, made solid gains. Bank of America rose 1.5%.

Investors are busy reviewing another big round of company earnings. Ford jumped 9.1% after reporting earnings that easily beat analysts’ forecasts and raising its full-year outlook. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar also rose 2.8% after turning in strong results.

Aside from Apple, Amazon and Starbucks will report their latest financial results later Thursday.

Outside of earnings, investors got a mixed bag of economic updates.

Hampered by rising COVID-19 cases and persistent supply shortages, the U.S. economy slowed sharply to a 2% annual growth rate in the July-September period, according to the Commerce Department. That marks the weakest quarterly expansion since the recovery from the pandemic recession began last year.

The Labor Department released a more upbeat report on the nation’s unemployment situation. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a pandemic low last week, another sign that the job market and economy continue to recover from last year’s coronavirus recession.

Both the pace of economic growth and the state of the jobs market are on investors’ minds as they look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s meeting next week to see how it moves forward with plans to trim bond purchases and its position on interest rates. Slower economic growth and rising inflation have raised more concerns on Wall Street about the impact of the central bank easing support for the economy and markets.

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