By DAMIAN J. TROISE, AP Business Writer
Shares rose in morning Wall Street trading on Thursday after U.S. lawmakers decided to avoid a government shutdown, but major indices are still on track for monthly losses.
The S&P 500 was up 0.2% at 10:07 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 50 points, or 0.2%, to 34,341 and the Nasdaq was up 0.5%.
Technology, healthcare and communications companies made strong gains. Oil prices fell 2% and weighed on energy stocks.
Investors have their eyes on Washington, where Democrats and Republicans in Congress are fighting to extend the nation’s debt limit. Congress has taken steps to avert this crisis, with the Senate set to approve legislation to fund the federal government until early December.
The broader market stumbled through September as investors try to get a clearer picture of the economy’s trajectory amid inflation concerns and uncertainty over how COVID-19 will continue to impact industries and consumers.
The benchmark S&P 500 is down 3.5% in September and heading for its worst monthly loss since September 2020. The index is also on track for a 1.6% gain this quarter, which would be its smallest quarterly gain since the pandemic stunned the economy and financial markets.
Investors weighed in a mixed set of economic data which revealed that the highly contagious delta variant has slashed consumer spending and the labor market recovery. The mixed signals continued on Thursday as the Labor Department reported that claims for unemployment assistance rose for the third week in a row and were higher than economists expected. The Commerce Department raised its estimate of economic growth in the second quarter to 6.7%, which was slightly better than economists expected.
Inflation fears that had weighed on the market at the start of the year returned in September as a wide range of companies issued more warnings about the impact of rising prices on their finances.
Bond yields remained stable. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bill, a benchmark for many types of loans, remained at 1.54% on Wednesday night. It was as low as 1.32% just over a week ago.
Supply chain issues, higher raw material costs, and labor issues are wreaking havoc in many industries. Investors are still trying to determine whether these problems are temporary and part of the economic recovery or could persist longer than expected. The next round of corporate earnings reports may shed some light on how companies are dealing with these issues.
Several companies made outsized gains and losses following the business news on Thursday. Virgin Galactic shares climbed 14.8% after being cleared to fly again following a Federal Aviation Administration investigation. CarMax fell 9.8% after reporting disappointing second quarter earnings.
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