Equities recovered from a noon fall to finish higher on Thursday, putting the market on course for its first weekly gain after three weeks of severe losses.
The market was choppy during the day as investors stayed focused on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech before Congress. Speaking before a House committee, Powell reiterated the Fed’s goal of containing the worst inflation in four decades without causing the economy to enter a recession, but admitted that “that path has gotten more and more challenging.”
The S&P 500 finished 1% higher after falling as much as 0.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 0.6%, while the Nasdaq increased by 1.6%.
Technology and health care stocks drove much of the rally, outweighing losses in energy and financial companies. Bond yields mostly fell. Oil prices also fell.
Trading has been turbulent in recent weeks as investors try to determine whether a recession is looming. The benchmark S&P 500 is currently in a bear market. That means it has dropped more than 20% from its most recent high, which was in January. The index has fallen for 10 of the last 11 weeks.
The S&P 500 rose 35.84 points to 3,795.73. The index is up 3.3% so far this week. The Dow gained 194.23 points to 30,677.36. The Nasdaq added 179.11 points to 11,232.19.
Smaller company stocks also gained ground. The Russell 2000 rose 21.40 points, or 1.3%, to 1,711.67.
Inflation remains stubbornly high, squeezing consumers with higher prices on everything from food to clothing. That has pressured people to shift spending from big-ticket items like electronics to necessities. The pressure has been worsened by record-high gasoline prices that show no sign of abating amid a supply and demand disconnect.
Big technology and health care companies did much of the heavy lifting. Microsoft rose 2.3% and Johnson & Johnson rose 2.2%. Energy stocks fell as the price of U.S. crude oil dropped 1.8%. Valero fell 7.6%.
Bond yields fell significantly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set mortgage rates, fell to 3.09% from 3.15% late Wednesday.