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S&P 500 Keeps Climbing

04/08/2021 | 08:07am

By Anna Hirtenstein

The S&P 500 rose Thursday, poised for another record-setting trading session, as investors awaited comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

The broad market index climbed 0.3% after closing at its 18th record this year on Wednesday. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.9%, driven by gains in technology stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, lost roughly 0.2%.

Stocks have started the second quarter on strong footing, with the S&P 500 rising 2.7% this month. The largest tech companies have surged ahead as the bond market calmed, easing concerns about the high valuations of growth stocks. Fed policy makers' comments, released Wednesday, highlighted their intention to continue with easy monetary policies until the economy has recovered more.

"The dynamic remains supportive for stocks," said Adrien Pichoud, a portfolio manager and chief economist at SYZ Private Banking. "The Fed and central banks in general are perceived to be in no rush to raise rates."

At 12 p.m. ET, Mr. Powell will be speaking about the global economy at the International Monetary Fund's virtual spring meetings.

The latest data on jobless claims showed that layoffs rose for a second week, highlighting the unevenness of the economic recovery. Worker filings for initial unemployment benefits rose to 744,000 last week, from a revised total of 728,000 the prior week. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal were expecting a decline to 694,000.

In bond markets, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note declined 1.643%, down from 1.653% on Wednesday. It had climbed as high as 1.749% at the end of last month. Yields rise when bond prices fall.

The cooling off in bond yields has led to a revival in the largest technology stocks' rally. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon.com and Google's parent Alphabet -- which are the biggest companies by market value on the S&P 500 -- have each climbed more than 4% this month after stumbling in March.

"We consider bond yields to be close to the top, so one of the barriers to tech has begun to come down," said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. "If there ever was going to be a test for tech, it would be this environment, with rising bond yields and the work-from-home trade starting to fade, but tech has remained really resilient in the face of that."

In corporate news, Twitter shares gained 1.9%. Bloomberg News reported that the company had considered acquiring social-media app Clubhouse. The talks ended, Bloomberg reported, adding that it wasn't clear why they stalled.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 ticked up roughly 0.5%.

Among European equities, Amundi rose over 3%, climbing for a second day after the French asset manager entered into exclusive talks with Société Générale to buy some of the bank's asset-management businesses.

In Asia, most major benchmarks climbed. The Shanghai Composite Index added less than 0.1%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.2%.

Julia Carpenter contributed to this article.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at anna.hirtenstein@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-08-21 1007ET

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