Stocks shake off wobbly start as investors weigh earnings | National News

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U.S. stocks moved higher in afternoon trading Thursday after shaking off an early pullback as investors weigh the latest batch of corporate earnings reports and economic data.

A report showing that the U.S. economy grew sharply in the first quarter is among the latest data pointing to a diminishing impact from the pandemic. Other upbeat reports included data showing that more Americans were signing contracts to buy homes in March after two months of declines.

The S&P 500 index was up 0.5% as of 2:16 p.m. Eastern, with gains by communication and financial companies outweighing a slide in health care and technology stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 157 points, or 0.5%, to 33,975 and the Nasdaq added 0.1%.

Big risks to the market include rising inflation getting out of hand and any aspect of the virus pandemic worsening and throwing off the economic recovery, said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments.

“Without one of those two, the macroeconomic direction seems clear,” he said.

Investors got a dose of big technology earnings overnight from the likes of Apple, Facebook, Qualcomm and others. Tech stocks drove much of the rally in 2020 and are still highly valued to investors, who are betting that the pandemic made a permanent shift in how Americans shopped and entertained themselves.