U.S. stocks barreled higher in back-and-forth trading Thursday after a rebound rally in the prior session helped all three major averages log gains of well above 1%.
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.3% as of 1:24 p.m. ET. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.1%.
All eyes were on Federal Reserve Chair Powell Thursday morning as he spoke at the Cato Institute’s 40th Annual Monetary Conference in Washington D.C. The U.S. central bank chief reasserted the Fed’s commitment to fighting inflation but remained hopeful the endeavor can be done without the “very high social costs” of monetary tightening.
The appearance marked Powell’s final public remarks before the Fed’s next policy announcement September 21.
Thursday’s seesaw session comes after the S&P 500 surged 1.8% Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average about 1.4%, and the Nasdaq Composite 2.1% – snapping a seven-day streak of declines and notching its biggest jump in four weeks.
On the economic data front, initial jobless claims fell to the lowest reading since May. Filings for first-time unemployment insurance totaled 222,000 in the week ended Sept. 3, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists called for 240,00 claims, according to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Across the Atlantic, the European Central Bank delivered an unprecedented 75 basis point interest rate hike and signaled further increases after inflation in the eurozone hit a new record high.
The increase came just two weeks before the Federal Reserve is poised to raise interest rates in the U.S. by 0.75% for the third consecutive time. Some market participants had hoped that policymakers would slow the pace of their rate-hiking campaign this fall, but strong economic data on the labor and manufacturing fronts have tempered those expectations.
CME Group’s Fedwatch tool reflects expectations for a bump of three quarters of a percentage at about 76%, up from 69% one week ago.
Goldman Sachs has also raised its rate estimates to a 75-basis-point hike in September from its previous expectation of a 0.50% increase, per a note from economists led by Jan Hatzius.
Shares of GameStop (GME) were ripped nearly 5% higher after the meme-stock darling announced a partnership with crypto platform FTX late Wednesday. The video-game retailer also reported second-quarter earnings that showed losses widened to $108.7 million while sales declined 4% from a year ago to $1.14 billion.
American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) shares tanked 11% after the company missed on earnings, paused its quarterly dividend, and warned “demand trends remain difficult” in the current quarter.
In commodity markets, oil prices nudged slightly higher after settling at a fresh seven-month low. On Wednesday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil tumbled 5.7% to settle at $82.32 per barrel, the lowest level since Jan. 13., and brent futures dropped 5.4% to settle at $87.62 per barrel.
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc