(RTTNews.com) - After recovering from an early move to the downside, stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading session on Thursday. With the upward move on the day, the major averages partly offset the steep losses posted in the previous session.
The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory but off their highs of the session. The Dow rose 56.09 points or 0.3 percent to 20,663.02, the Nasdaq advanced 43.89 points or 0.7 percent to 6,055.13 and the S&P 500 climbed 8.69 points or 0.4 percent to 2,365.72.
Bargain hunting contributed to the strength on Wall Street after the weakness seen early in the day pulled the major averages down to their lowest intraday levels in almost a month.
In the latest developments in Washington, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as Special Counsel to oversee an investigation of Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.
Rosenstein said public interest requires him to place the investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.
The move comes on the heels of reports Trump asked former FBI Director Comey to drop a federal investigation into links between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russia.
The rebound on Wall Street also came following the release of some upbeat economic data, including a report from the Labor Department showing another unexpected drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended May 13th.
The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 232,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 236,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to rise to 240,000.
A separate report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed that regional manufacturing activity has unexpectedly expanded at a faster pace in the month of May.
The Philly Fed said its index for current manufacturing activity in the region climbed to 38.8 in May from 22.0 in April, with a positive reading indicating growth. The index had been expected to dip to 19.5.
The Conference Board also released a report showing that its index of leading economic indicators rose by 0.3 percent in April, matching expectations.
After turning in some of the market's worst performances in the previous session, semiconductor stocks showed a strong move back to the upside. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index surged up by 1.9 percent after plunging by 4.4 percent on Wednesday.
Within the semiconductor sector, Qorvo (QRVO) and Nvidia ( NVDA ) posted standout gains, jumping by 4.2 percent each.
Biotechnology stocks also regained ground after yesterday's sell-off, with the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index climbing by 1.4 percent. Achillion Pharmaceuticals ( ACHN ) led the sector higher after an upgrade by Leerink Partners.
Oil service, trucking, and retail stocks also moved notably higher on the day, partly offsetting the steep losses posted in the previous session.
On the other hand, gold stocks pulled back after bucking the downtrend on Wednesday, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 2.8 percent. The drop by the index came after it ended the previous session at its best closing level in almost a month.
The pullback by gold stocks came as gold for June delivery slid $5.90 to $1,252.80 an ounce after jumping $22.30 to $1,258.70 an ounce on Wednesday.
Steel stocks also saw significant weakness, extending yesterday's sell-off. The NYSE Arca Steel Index slump by 2.6 percent to a six-month closing low.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid by 0.6 percent.
The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index dropped by 0.5 percent and the German DAX Index dipped by 0.3 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries showed a lack of direction before eventually closing modestly lower. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by 1.7 basis points to 2.233 percent.
Earnings news may attract attention on Friday amid a quiet day on the U.S. economic front, with Gap (GPS) and Applied Materials ( AMAT ) among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.
Campbell Soup ( CPB ), Deere (DE), and Foot Locker ( FL ) are also due to report their results before the start of trading on Friday.
Traders are also likely to keep an eye on remarks by St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard and San Francisco Fed President John Williams
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