Stocks shook off a wobbly start Thursday to finish in positive territory. The S&P 500 rose 28 points to 4,211, the Dow rose 239 points to 34,060, and the Nasdaq rose 31 points to 14,082. All the gains were under 1%. New earnings reports and economic data helped. A report showing that the US economy grew sharply in the first quarter is among the latest data pointing to a diminishing impact from the pandemic, per the AP. Another report showed that more Americans were signing contracts to buy homes in March after two months of declines. Big risks to the market include rising inflation getting out of hand and any aspect of the pandemic worsening and throwing off the recovery, said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments.
“Without one of those two, the macroeconomic direction seems clear,” he said. Investors got a dose of big technology earnings overnight from the likes of Apple, Facebook, Qualcomm, and others. Tech stocks drove much of the rally in 2020 and are still highly valued to investors, who are betting that the pandemic made a permanent shift in how Americans shopped and entertained themselves. Facebook jumped 7% after the social media giant reported stronger-than-expected results for the first quarter thanks to soaring ad revenue. On the economic front, the Commerce Department said the economy grew at a brisk 6.4% annual rate in the last quarter. That acceleration is expected to increase through the summer. (Thursday's close means President Biden has had the strongest first 100 days in regard to stocks since FDR.)