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Stocks rise broadly as indexes hover around record highs

Smaller stocks outpaced the broader market in a sign that investors are more confident about economic growth.
The New York Stock Exchange operates during normal business hours in the Financial District, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in the Manhattan borough of New York.  Stocks are moving higher in early trading on Wall Street Thursday, Oct. 28, keeping the S&P 500 hovering near the record closing high it set on Tuesday.
The New York Stock Exchange operates during normal business hours in the Financial District, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in the Manhattan borough of New York. Stocks are moving higher in early trading on Wall Street Thursday, Oct. 28, keeping the S&P 500 hovering near the record closing high it set on Tuesday. [ JOHN MINCHILLO | AP ]
Published Oct. 28, 2021

Stocks rose broadly in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday and put major indexes on a path to push past record highs.

The S&P 500 rose 0.7 percent as of 12:02 p.m. Eastern. Roughly 75 percent of stocks in the benchmark index made gains and it is hovering above the record close it set on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 136 points, or 0.4 percent, to 35,623. The Nasdaq rose 1.1 percent.

Smaller stocks outpaced the broader market in a sign that investors are more confident about economic growth. The Russell 2000 rose 1.4 percent.

Technology stocks led the gains. KLA, which makes equipment for manufacturing semiconductors, rose 4.3 percent after beating Wall Street’s fiscal first-quarter profit forecasts. Apple, which reports its financial results later Thursday, rose 2.5 percent.

Bond yields edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.56 percent from 1.53 percent. Banks, which rely on higher bond yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans, made solid gains. Bank of America rose 1.5 percent.

Investors are busy reviewing another big round of company earnings. Ford jumped 8.2 percent after reporting earnings that easily beat analysts’ forecasts and raising its full-year outlook. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar also rose 3.4 percent after turning in strong results.

Aside from Apple, Amazon and Starbucks will report their latest financial results later Thursday.

The broader market has been gaining ground as the latest batch of corporate report cards show that companies fared well in the most recent quarter, despite a surge in COVID-19 cases and inflation worries weighing on the economic recovery.

“Right now, the market is saying I think six months from now the economy will be good, but not great,” said George Ball, chairman of financial services firm Sanders Morris Harris.

Outside of earnings, investors got a mixed bag of economic updates.

Hampered by rising COVID-19 cases and persistent supply shortages, the U.S. economy slowed sharply to a 2 percent annual growth rate in the July-September period, according to the Commerce Department. That marks the weakest quarterly expansion since the recovery from the pandemic recession began last year.

The Labor Department released a more upbeat report on the nation’s unemployment situation. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a pandemic low last week, another sign that the job market and economy continue to recover from last year’s coronavirus recession.

“There’s a cocktail of economic news coming out that is strong and positive, but in some cases lackluster,” Ball said. “That combination, in total, is probably good for the staying power of the economy.”

Both the pace of economic growth and the state of the jobs market are on investors’ minds as they look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s meeting next week to see how it moves forward with plans to trim bond purchases and its position on interest rates. Slower economic growth and rising inflation have raised more concerns on Wall Street about the impact of the central bank easing support for the economy and markets.

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Rising energy prices have also raised concerns about the cost for consumers as they pay more to fill gas tanks and heat homes. U.S. crude oil prices are down 0.9 percent, but have jumped more than 70 percent so far this year.

By DAMIAN J. TROISE AP Business Writer