By Joy Wiltermuth and William Watts
U.S. stocks finished sharply higher Thursday as investors piled into technology stocks following results from Facebook parent Meta Platforms that weren’t as bad as feared.
Investors also brushed off data that showed the U.S. economy contracted unexpectedly in the first quarter.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.08% rose 614.46 points, or 1.9%, ending at 33,916.39.
The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.64% gained 103.54 points, or 2.5%, finishing at 4,287.50.
The Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -1.82% advanced 382.59 points, or 3.1%, closing at 12,871.53, after also briefly trading in negative territory.
Dow and S&P 500 mark best daily percentage climb since March 9, while Nasdaq sweeps to best day since March 16, according to Dow Jones Market Data
On Wednesday, the Dow rose 62 points, or 0.2%, while the S&P 500 gained 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite failed to hold a bounce, ending the day with a loss of less than 0.1%.
However, the S&P 500 is down 5.4% so far in April, the Nasdaq Composite has lost about 9.5% and the Dow has shed 2.2% for the same stretch.
What drove markets
Major indexes recorded significant gains Thursday on optimism about earnings after results from Meta Platforms . Though they weren’t well ahead of consensus, as revenue actually came in weaker than forecast, expectations were low given the 48% decline this year in the stock. Shares jumped 17.6%.
Meta’s better-than-forecast subscriber numbers sets the stage for two other megacap tech stock results due after the close Thursday, Amazon.com /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -4.41% and Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -0.89% . Though the stock-market decline for Amazon hasn’t been as severe as Meta’s.
“We are seeing a market that’s beginning to perhaps show some fundamental strength, in the sense that earnings are now coming into play,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, by phone.
“Yesterday, we had a very weak recovery, but with the S&P 500 now comfortably above the 4,200 level, this rally likely can continue for a bit longer,” he said, adding that the upswing could mean slightly less carnage in April for stocks, despite ongoing uncertainties.
Earlier this week, the S&P 500 was flirting with its worst April performance since 1970 when it dropped more than 6%, according to Dow Jones Market Data. At last check, it was down 5.4% on the month.
Investors also were weighing a first look at first-quarter economic growth, with gross domestic product showing a 1.4% annualized contraction after a 6.9% expansion in the final quarter of 2021. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast 1% growth, but some had warned of the potential for a negative number.
As economists had warned, the decline was mostly due to a record international trade deficit, lower government spending and declining inventories, but robust consumer spending and businesses investment signaled the economy was still expanding at a steady pace.