U.S. stocks bounced back in early trading on Thursday, after the Nasdaq nearly hit a 30-month low a day earlier, as the market looked set to erase some of its recent losses on the second-to-last trading day of the year.

The main indexes built on premarket gains after U.S. weekly jobless claims data showed the number of workers receiving benefits has climbed to the highest level since February, a sign that the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hikes might be slowing economic growth and inflation.

How are stocks trading
  • The S&P 500 SPX, +1.64% rose 58 points, or 1.5%, to 3,841.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.97% added 321 points, or 1%, to 33,197.
  • Nasdaq Composite COMP, +2.36% climbed 223 points, or 2.2%, to 10,436.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 366 points, or 1.1%, to 32876, the S&P 500 declined 46 points, or 1.2%, to 3783, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 140 points, or 1.35%, to 10,213, its lowest closing level of the year.

The S&P 500 is up more than 6% from its 2022 low hit in mid October, but the index remains down 20.1% for the year to date.

What’s driving markets

The penultimate session of 2022 was showing tentative signs of delivering some much needed festive cheer for the stock market as a hoped for “Santa Claus rally” has so far failed to materialize.

Stocks advanced after the open after data showed the number of Americans receiving more than a single week of unemployment benefits climbed by 41,000 last week to 1.71 million, the highest level in 10 months.

See: U.S. jobless claims move higher in latest week

The jobless-claims data “points to a loosening in the labor market, which is welcome news for the Fed,” said Larry Adam, chief investment officer at Raymond James, in a tweet.

Stocks are on track to finish off their worst year since 2008 not far from their lows of the year. The Nasdaq Composite will start Thursday near its lowest intraday level in 30 months, having lost 36.4% since its peak in November 2021.

“This year really needs to end, now!” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank, who noted that the latest dip for stocks leaves the U.S. benchmark in a precarious technical position.

If the major indexes finish lower for the week, it would mark the fourth straight such loss for the S&P 500, the longest streak of weekly declines since May, according to FactSet data.

For the Dow, which finished higher last week as it continued to outperform, a weekly loss would be the third down week in four.

Companies in focus
  • Tesla TSLA, +7.90% rallied Thursday after posting its first rise in eight sessions Wednesday. The electric-vehicle maker’s shares had declined in seven consecutive sessions, their worst losing streak since a seven-session run that ended on Sept. 15, 2018.
  • Southwest Airlines  LUV, +3.54% remains in focus as the airline tries to recover from logistical issues that caused thousands of flight cancellations over the past week. The stock fell 11% over the past two days.
  • General Electric’s  GE, +0.60% spin-off of GE HealthCare Technologies will join the S&P 500 index when it begins trading as a separate public company on Jan. 4. GE HealthCare will replace Vornado Realty Trust  VNO, +2.47%, which will move to the S&P MidCap 400. Vornado will replace logistics company RXO RXO, +6.59%, which will move to the S&P SmallCap 600. GE HealthCare — trading on a when-issued basis — rose, while Vornado was marginally lower and RXO jumped.
  • Cal-Maine  CALM, -12.25% slid after its quarterly earnings came in below Wall Street forecasts. Cal-Maine reported record sales for the quarter as an avian flu outbreak continued to limit the supply of eggs, driving prices sharply higher. The company also said there were no positive tests for avian flu at any of its production facilities, as of Wednesday.


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