Stocks Surge as Solid Earnings Offset Inflation Concern

Stocks powered higher Thursday as investors appeared to shrug off accelerating inflation signals, as well as a hawkish Federal Reserve, ahead of a busy slate of bank and blue-chip earnings.

At last check the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 524 points, or 1.52%, to 34,901, while the S&P 500 advanced 1.65% and the Nasdaq climbed 1.7%.

Stocks were given an added boost by a big decline in weekly jobless claims, which fell below 300,000 for the first time since the peak of last year’s Covid pandemic.

Minutes of the Fed’s September meeting, published yesterday, noted that Federal Open Market Committee members “generally assessed that, provided that the economic recovery remained broadly on track, a gradual tapering process that concluded around the middle of next year would likely be appropriate.”

Walgreens Boots Alliance  (WBA) – Get Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc Report shares rose after it posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. Pharmacy and retail sales gains boosted the Dow component’s bottom line.

Wells Fargo  (WFC) – Get Wells Fargo & Company Report shares slipped after the banking company posted third-quarter earnings that beat analysts forecasts amid broader improvement in the economy and net reserves.

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Bank of America  (BAC) – Get Bank of America Corp Report jumped after it posted stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings. Net interest income and improving loan growth put the lender in a solid position heading into the final months of the year.

UnitedHealth  (UNH) – Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Report rose after its adjusted third-quarter earnings beat analysts’ forecasts and the group raised its full-year outlook. The results reflected membership growth and lower negative Covid-19 effects on its operating costs.

Global oil prices on Thursday moved back toward the highest levels in seven years. The International Energy Agency warned that power crises in Europe and Asia would boost crude demand through the end of the year.

“Record coal and gas prices as well as rolling blackouts are prompting the power sector and energy-intensive industries to turn to oil to keep the lights on and operations humming,” the Paris group said in its monthly energy market report.

WTI futures for November delivery were 80 cents higher on the session at $81.24 a barrel after Energy Department stockpile data showed a 1.97-million-barrel decline in domestic stockpiles at the Cushing delivery hub. 

Brent contracts for December, the global pricing benchmark, were up 76 cents at $83.94 a barrel.