Market Snapshot: U.S. stocks aim for 4th straight positive session as tech stocks rebound

Market Snapshot: U.S. stocks aim for 4th straight positive session as tech stocks rebound

U.S. stock rose on Thursday, putting Wall Street on track to extend its recent uptick to a fourth straight session as technology stocks, among the weakest performers of September, led the day’s advance.

What are the main benchmarks doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.53% rose 161 points, or 0.6%, to 26,156. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.45% was up 15 points to 2,904, a gain of 0.5%. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.68% rose 1% to 8,030, a rise of 75 points.

The day stands as an unusually active one for the stock market, as recent trading has been slight. At current levels, the S&P 500 is on track for its largest move — in either direction — of the month of September.

The day’s gains were broad based, with seven of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors higher on the day. However, technology stocks were by far the biggest gainers, advancing 1.2% and providing an outsize lift to the Nasdaq. Among notable risers, Apple Inc. AAPL, +1.73%  rose 1.7% a day after it unveiled new iPhones. Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +0.26% GOOG, +0.36% added 1.2 and Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +1.37%  rose 1.5%.

Tech has struggled lately, with the sector down 1.2% thus far this month, compared with the 0.1% rise of the S&P 500.

As of Wednesday’s close, the Dow has risen for two days in a row, while the S&P has finished higher for three straight sessions. The three gauges have notched year-to-date gains of 5.8% to 16%.

What’s driving markets?

Investors continue to track the trade-related tensions between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies.

There is some optimism after a report late Wednesday that the Trump administration is giving Beijing another chance to try to stave off new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese exports. A fresh round of trade talks could take place later this month, and investors are optimistic that it could diminish the odds of a full-blown trade war erupting between the two.

While Wall Street has mostly shrugged off escalating trade tensions, with the S&P about 1% from record levels, analysts are concerned that the trade issue, if it worsens, could begin to act as a sizable headwind on growth.

In One Chart: Here’s the hit stocks around the world have taken from trade-war fears so far

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank made no change on interest rates, and repeated that it doesn’t expect any changes until summer 2019 at least as it remains on track to end its bond-buying program in December. The ECB slightly trimmed its GDP growth forecasts for both 2018 and 2019, and ECB President Mario Draghi said that risks to the euro area’s growth outlook were “broadly balanced.”

Which economic reports are on tap?

The consumer-price index rose by 0.2% in August, its fifth straight increase. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted a 0.3% gain. Separately, jobless claims fell slightly in the latest week, coming in at a 49-year low.

At that same time, investors are due to get weekly jobless claims, with 210,000 claims expected.

Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic is due to speak about the economic outlook at an event in Jackson, Miss., at 1:15 p.m. Eastern.

What are market analysts saying?

“There are a lot of variables out there. Some are positive, like earnings growth, while others are negative, like the U.S. dollar. Those crosscurrents mean there’s been no real direction in either way, and it makes September something of a scary month for me, because there’s a lack of earnings data and I’m worried the market can be dragged down on light volume because of news flow surrounding tariffs,” said John Thomas, chief investment officer of Global Wealth Management.

Thomas noted that markets have recently been shrugging off tariff news, which he said was a cautious signal. “I wouldn’t way we’re becoming immune to the issue, but we brush it off more every day, and I’m worried markets underappreicate the impact it could have on large-capitalization companies that export a lot. Complacent is a good term for how things stand right now; everyone expects the market to continue going up, and that’s a concern.”

Which stocks are in focus?

Qualcomm Inc. QCOM, +3.46%  rose 3% after it entered into a $16 billion accelerated stock repurchase program.

HollyFrontier Corp. HFC, +1.90%  authorized a $1 billion stock buyback program. The stock rose 1.1%.

Fred’s Inc. FRED, -15.22%  reported a drop of 3.5% in its second-quarter same-store sales. It also reported a drop in revenue and a loss that widened from the previous year. Shares plummeted 15%.

Kroger Co. KR, -9.69%  shares fell 10% after it reported its second-quarter results, which included same-store sales that rose less than expected.

Pivotal Software Inc. PVTL, -19.29%  reported results and a forecast that were generally better than expected, though the software company missed on billings. The stock plunged 19%.

Shares of Acorda Therapeutics Inc. ACOR, -12.16%  tumbled 9%. The company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has extended the review period for a treatment for symptoms of Parkinson Disease.

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