U.S. stocks mostly higher as strong economic data lifts sentiment ahead of Powell speech

U.S. stocks traded mixed at the noon hour on Thursday with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite headed for back-to-back gains following a batch of strong economic data as investors waited to hear from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

How stocks are trading
S&P 500
rose 18 points, or 0.4%, to 4,158.

Dow Jones Industrial Average
lost 3 points, or less than 0.1%, to 32,966.

Nasdaq Composite
advanced 89 points, or 0.7%, to 12,520.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 60 points, or 0.18%, to 32969, the S&P 500 increased 12 points, or 0.29%, to 4141, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 50 points, or 0.41%, to 12432. The S&P 500 is up 12.9% from its mid-June low but remains down 13.1% for the year to date.

What’s driving markets

U.S. stocks were mostly higher on Thursday following revised readings on the performance of the U.S. and German economies during the second quarter, along with news of more fiscal stimulus measures out of China. However, low trading volume was contributing to exaggerated swings intraday.

A revised reading on second-quarter gross domestic product showed Germany’s economy grew by 0.1% in the second quarter, which was better than economists had expected. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the first revision of second-quarter GDP figures showed the economy shrank by just 0.6%, better than the 0.9% contraction from the original reading.

See: GDP shrank at 0.6% annual pace in second quarter, but it wasn’t all bad news

Eric Diton, president and managing director at the Wealth Alliance, said U.S. stocks had good reason to celebrate the latest reading on second-quarter GDP.

“The underlying data is not showing a recession, and that’s pretty ideal for this market because this market is praying for a soft landing,” Diton said.

Stocks are also contending with low trading volume, which helped to exaggerate swings in the market. Wednesday’s session saw just 8.8 billion shares traded…


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