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U.S. Stocks Move Sharply Higher On Upbeat Earnings News

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Stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session on Thursday, adding to the gains posted on Wednesday. With the strong upward move, the Dow ended the session at its best closing level in over a month.

The major averages ended the session just off their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 534.75 points or 1.6 percent to 34,912.56, the Nasdaq surged 251.79 points or 1.7 percent to 14,832.43 and the S&P 500 shot up 74.46 points or 1.7 percent to 4,438.26.

The rally on Wall Street came as traders reacted positively to a batch of largely upbeat earnings news from several big-name companies.

Dow component UnitedHealth (UNH) moved sharply higher after the health insurer reported better than expected third quarter results and raised its full-year guidance.

Financial giant Bank of America (BAC) also posted a strong gain after reporting third quarter results that beat analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

Shares of Morgan Stanley (MS) also moved to the upside after the investment giant reported better than expected third quarter results.

Adding to the positive sentiment on Wall Street, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped below 300,000 for the first time in well over a year in the week ended October 9th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 293,000, a decrease of 36,000 from the previous week's revised level of 329,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 319,000 from the 326,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

The Labor Department also released a separate report showing U.S. producer prices increased by slightly less than expected in the month of September.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand rose by 0.5 percent in September after climbing by 0.7 percent in August. Economists had been expecting producer prices to increase by 0.6 percent.

Core producer prices, which exclude prices for food, energy and trade services, inched up by 0.1 percent in September after rising by 0.3 percent in August. Core prices were expected to climb by 0.4 percent.

Compared to the same month a year ago, producer prices surged by 8.6 percent in September compared to an 8.3 percent spike in August.

Meanwhile, the annual rate of growth in core producer prices slowed to 5.9 percent in September from 6.3 percent in August.

Sector News

Semiconductor stocks moved sharply on the day, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index surging up by 3.1 percent. The index climbed further off the nearly three-month closing low set on Tuesday.

The strength in the semiconductor sector came after Taiwan chip giant TSMC's (TSM) quarterly profit beat expectations.

Significant strength was also visible among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 2.6 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Chemical stocks also saw considerable strength on the day, driving the S&P Chemical Sector Index up by 2.6 percent.

Housing, natural gas and software stocks also moved notably higher, reflecting broad based buying interest on Wall Street.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 1.5 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed by 0.5 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries extended the upward trend seen over the past few sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 3 basis points at 1.519 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Friday may be impacted by reaction to the latest batch of economic news, including reports on retail sales, import and export prices and consumer sentiment.

Earnings news may also continue to attract attention, with Charles Schwab (SCHW), Goldman Sachs (GS) and J.B. Hunt (JBHT) among the companies due to report their quarterly results before the start of trading.

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