Stocks are sharply higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading Tuesday, clawing back more of the ground they lost in a miserable several weeks.
The S&P 500 was up 3.06% as of 4:05 p.m. Eastern. The benchmark index has been rallying since hitting its lowest point of the year on Friday to close out a September slump.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared by 825 points, or 2.80%, and the Nasdaq rose 3.34%. Small company stocks also made solid gains. The Russell 2000 rose 3.3%.
European and Asian markets also made solid gains.
The broad gains come as major indexes remain in a bear market after falling 20% or more from their most recent record highs. The two-day rally is hitting markets as investors look for signs that central banks might ease up on their aggressive rate hikes aimed at taming the hottest inflation in four decades.
Australia's central bank made an interest rate hike that was smaller than previous ones and that helped Australia's market jump 3.8%. It is a potentially positive signal for investors, along with the latest jobs data from the U.S.
Investors in the U.S. received potentially encouraging news from a government report on job openings that showed the number of available jobs in the U.S. plummeted in August compared with July. It's a sign that businesses may pull back further on hiring and potentially cool chronically high inflation.
The optimism could be misguided as inflation remains stubbornly hot, said John Lynch, chief investment officer for Comerica Wealth Management.
“Investors should be worried about false positives,” he said. “Be wary of the history of bear market rallies, they can be very seductive.”
Major indexes could be in store for more declines ahead, he said, as more economic data and the next round of earnings reports paints a clearer picture of how inflation continues to impact business operations and consumer spending.
Treasury yields continued to pull back from their multiyear highs, which has helped relieve some of the pressure on stocks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which helps set rates for mortgages and many other kinds of loans, fell to 3.61% from 3.65% late Monday. It got as high as 4% last week after starting the year at just 1.51%.
The yield on the two-year Treasury, which more closely tracks expectations for Federal Reserve action, fell to 4.09% from 4.12% late Monday.
The market was mostly quiet with company news ahead of the next round of corporate earnings. Trading in Twitter was halted for several hours after the stock spiked in midday trading on reports that Elon Musk would proceed with his $44 billion deal to buy the company after months of legal battles. The stock resumed trading at about 3:40 p.m. Eastern time, surging 21.5%.
Cruise line operators were the biggest gainers among S&P 500 stocks. Norwegian Cruise Line jumped 16.7%, Royal Caribbean surged 17% and Carnival gained 13.7%.
Investors are watching closely as central banks raise interest rates to make borrowing more difficult and slow economic growth to try to tame inflation. Investors are hoping that they will eventually ease off their aggressive rate hikes and the move by Australia's central bank is a hopeful sign for some.
Wall Street is worried that the rate hikes, especially the increases from the Fed, could go too far in slowing growth and send economies into a recession. The Fed has already pushed its key overnight interest rate to a range of 3% to 3.25%, up from virtually zero as recently as March.
Economic growth is already slowing globally and the U.S. economy contracted during the first two quarters of the year, which is considered an informal signal of a recession. The economy still has several strong pockets, including employment. Wall Street will get a more detailed look at the employment situation in the U.S. when the government releases its monthly jobs report for September on Friday.
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