U.S. stocks open higher as consumer staples, health-care lead

U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday with the health-care, consumer staples and real estate sectors among the best performers in the S&P 500 index.

What’s happening
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average
    DJIA,
    +0.50%

    rose 170 points, or 0.6%, to 30655
  • The S&P 500
    SPX,
    +0.62%

    gained 15 points, or 0.4%, to 3774.
  • The Nasdaq Composite
    COMP,
    +0.84%

    increased 33 points, or 0.6%, to 11071.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.50%

fell 47 points, or 0.15%, to 30483, the S&P 500
SPX,
+0.62%

declined 5 points, or 0.13%, to 3760, and the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
+0.84%

dropped 16 points, or 0.15%, to 11053.

What’s driving markets

The focus of investors remains on whether the U.S. economy is headed for a recession. On Wednesday Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said a recession was a possibility even as he stuck to his message that the economy is strong enough to withstand a series of interest-rate hikes.

“The ‘unconditional’ notion that the Fed would be prepared to tolerate a recession if that is ultimately required to tame inflation has not been repudiated,” said Krishna Guha, vice chairman of Evercore ISI.

“But the fact that this was kept in the background not the foreground [on Wednesday] both avoids opening the Fed up to political attack from the left, and confirms that Powell does not want to do anything that might prematurely foreclose on the possibility of a softish landing, even at the cost of leaving the Fed short of Volcker-esque maximum forcefulness on inflation at this time.”

Powell will be quizzed on Thursday by lawmakers with the House Financial Services Committee starting at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

The recent talk of recession has brought the yield on the 10-year Treasury
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.037%

down to 3.09% from as high as 3.48% earlier this month. Falling yields can help long-duration assets such as technology stocks and bitcoin
BTCUSD,
+2.80%
,
which rose in early action on Thursday.

In U.S. economic data Thursday, new filings for unemployment benefits declined by 2,000 last week to 229,000 while remaining near a five-month high. It’s the latest sign that the U.S.’s red-hot labor market is finally starting to cool.

Single-stock movers
  • Revlon
    REV,
    -13.39%

    shares retreated Thursday following a torrid rally that was reminiscent of the “meme stock” craze from early 2021, as the company’s heavily shorted shares have surged more than 300% since the firm filed for bankruptcy protection.
  • Altria Group
    MO,
    +1.17%

    continued to slide as the FDA prepares to order Juul e-cigarettes to be banned in the U.S. market.
  • Boxed
    BOXD,
    +4.50%
    ,
    the online wholesale retailer, saw its shares surge 18%.
  • Occidental Petroleum
    OXY,
    +2.53%

    shares surged 4% as U.S.-traded oil prices rebounded.

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