By Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga
Major stock indexes on Wall Street notched their biggest gains in more than six weeks Thursday, as technology companies clawed back some of the ground they had lost recently.
The S&P 500 rose 2.5%, with roughly 85% of the stocks in the benchmark index closing higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.8% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended 3.1% higher.
The gains erased weekly losses for the indexes, though they are all still headed for a dismal monthly finish after sliding for much of April.
This week has been especially turbulent as investors review a heavy batch of corporate earnings from major tech companies, industrial firms and retailers.
“Volatility is elevated across the board,” said Zach Hill, head of portfolio management at Horizon Investments. “We had some weakness last week and the beginning of this week, and we’re seeing some of that reverse.”
The S&P 500 rose 103.54 points to 4,287.50, while the Dow climbed 614.46 points to 33,916.39. The Nasdaq picked up 382.59 points to 12,871.53.
Smaller company stocks also rallied. The Russell 2000 rose 33.91 points, or 1.8%, to 1,917.94.
Big Tech and communications companies have been behind much of the oscillations in the broader market as their pricey stock values have more force in pushing the major indexes up or down.
Apple rose 4.5% in regular trading. It rose another 2.3% in after-hours trading after reporting stronger-than-expected results and increasing its dividend and stock repurchase program.
Chipmaker Qualcomm jumped 9.7% after easily beating Wall Street’s profit estimates. Facebook's parent company Meta surged 17.6%, the biggest gain among S&P 500 stocks, after it beat Wall Street’s first-quarter profit forecasts and reported an encouraging increase in daily users.
Encouraging financial reports helped support gains for several other major companies. McDonald's rose 2.9% following a strong earnings update. Southwest Airlines rose 2.1% after reporting solid revenue and telling investors it expects a profitable year as travel demand returns with the pandemic fading.
Bond yields gained ground. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.83% from 2.81%.
The latest round of corporate report cards are hitting the market as Wall Street tries to figure out how rising inflation is impacting businesses and consumer spending. Earnings have been mostly positive, but investors are also focusing on forecasts, which have become more difficult for many companies to provide because of all the uncertainties swirling around inflation and economic growth.
“Companies just don’t have enough transparency into the future to give any numbers on that,” said Jason Draho, head of asset allocation for the Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management.
Supply chain issues have been crimping business operations in many industries throughout the recovery from the pandemic and Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine has worsened increases for energy and key food commodity prices. Strict COVID-19 lockdown measures in China have added to concerns about slowing growth.
“It all just fuels investor anxiety, which is high,” Draho said. “Investors are just trying to make sense of all that is happening.”
The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to aggressively hike rates as it steps up its fight against inflation. The chair of the Fed has indicated the central bank may hike short-term interest rates by double the usual amount at upcoming meetings, starting next week. It has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018.
The Commerce Department on Thursday reported that the U.S. economy shrank last quarter for the first time since the pandemic recession struck two years ago. But the report showed that consumers and businesses kept spending, despite rising inflation, in a sign of underlying resilience.
Consumer spending is being closely watched as a gauge for the broader economy, as everything from food to clothing and gas becomes more expensive. Investors will get another update on spending Friday when the Commerce Department releases its personal income and spending report for March.
Veiga reported from Los Angeles.
Updated on April 28, 2022, at 4:41 p.m. ET.