Stocks closed higher on Wall Street but remain lower for the week after five straight losses. The S&P 500 rose 0.8% Thursday and the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 1.1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5%.
U.S. crude oil prices settled lower, marking their lowest point of the year. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set mortgage rates, rose to 3.49%.
Activision Blizzard fell 1.5% after the Federal Trade Commission said it is suing to block Microsoft’s planned $69 billion takeover of the video game company, saying it could suppress competitors to its Xbox game consoles.
Technology and health care companies had some of the biggest gains. Chipmaker Nvidia climbed 5.4% and Pfizer rose 2.5%.
Energy stocks lost the most ground as U.S. crude oil prices settled 0.8% lower at $71.46 per barrel, their lowest point of the year. ConocoPhillips slid 2.3%.
Bond yields rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set mortgage rate s, rose to 3.49% from 3.42% late Wednesday.
Markets in Europe closed mostly lower, while markets in Asia ended mixed.
Major indexes are all in the red for the week and have been swinging between big monthly gains and losses throughout the year. Investors’ worries about inflation, rising interest rates and recession risks have made for a volatile market. That has also left Wall Street focused on any updated economic or inflation data.
“We’ll continue to see outsized moves in the markets over the coming months,” said Jeff Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab. “We’re going to be feeling our way through and there’s going to be a lot of volatility.”
On Thursday, the U.S. reported slightly more Americans filed for jobless claims last week, but not as many as economists had forecast. The labor market remains one of the strongest pockets of the economy, which has been stifled under the weight of stubbornly hot inflation and rising interest rates.
Low unemployment is good for the broader economy but makes it more difficult for the Federal Reserve to tame inflation. The central bank has been raising interest rates to curb borrowing and spending in order to cool the hottest inflation in decades. Its benchmark interest rate sits at 3.75% to 4%, the highest in 15 years.
The Fed will meet next week and is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate by a half-percentage point.
Resilient consumer spending, which is partly tied to strong employment, has also made the fight against inflation more difficult. It has been keeping the economy strong enough to stay out of a recession, analysts have said, but it is also increasing the chances that the Fed will go too far in raising interest rates. The Fed could potentially cause a recession by hitting the brakes too hard on the economy.
Wall Street will get more insight into how consumers feel about inflation and the economy on Friday when the University of Michigan releases its consumer sentiment survey for December. Investors will also get an update on how inflation is impacting businesses when the government releases its latest monthly report on wholesale prices Friday.
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