Stocks moved higher Thursday on Wall Street following reports suggesting the economy and corporate profits may be doing better than expected. The Dow rose 205 points, or 0.6%, to 33,949; the S&P 500 rose 44 points, or 0.9%, to 4,060; and the Nasdaq rose 199 points, or 1.7%, to 11,512. More swings may still be ahead, as Wall Street digests a growing torrent of earnings and economic reports, per the AP. Markets have veered up and down recently as worries about a severe recession and drop-off in profits battle against hopes the economy can manage a soft landing and the Federal Reserve may ease up on interest rates.
Thursday's headline report showed the overall economy held up better through the last three months of 2022 than economists expected, even with the weight of all the rate hikes the Fed approved last year to combat inflation. According to the US government's first of three estimates on it, the economy’s growth slowed to an annual rate of 2.9% in the quarter, which was stronger than the 2.3% that economists had forecast. Other reports showed that orders for long-lasting goods from factories strengthened by more than expected in December and that fewer workers applied for jobless claims than expected last week.
On the earnings front, reports from big tech-oriented companies helped build optimism a day after worries flared following forecasts from Microsoft widely seen as discouraging. Tesla jumped 9.6% after the electric-vehicle maker reported stronger profit for its latest quarter than analysts expected. Seagate Technology rose 12.5% after it reported stronger revenue and earnings than expected. Steelmaker Nucor was also among the top-performing stocks in the S&P 500, rising 8.1% after beating Wall Street’s profit and revenue forecasts. Chevron rose 4.4% after it raised its dividend and approved a program to buy back up to $75 billion of its stock. On the losing end of Wall Street was Sherwin Williams, which fell 8.8%, and IBM, which fell 4.1%.
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