By DAMIAN J. TROISE and ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writers
Stocks rose broadly in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday as investors continue to monitor the spread of the new coronavirus variant as well as measures that the U.S. and other governments are taking to restrain it.
The S&P 500 rose 1.6% as of 2:16 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 689 points, or 2%, to 34,717 and the Nasdaq rose 0.8%.
The broader market as been choppy all week and every major index is on track for a weekly loss as investors try to gauge the amount of damage the omicron variant of COVID-19 might inflict on the economy. Wall Street will likely remain jumpy until investors have more information whether the latest variant is highly contagious and how well current vaccines will hold up.
Smaller company stocks, which have lost the most ground this week, had some of the strongest gains, sending the Russell 2000 index 2.6% higher.
Roughly 80% of companies in the S&P 500 index rose. The index has been on a roller coaster ride throughout the week. It was up as much as 1.9% Wednesday before skidding and closing 1.2% lower.
Banks and other financial companies lead the gains. Bank of America rose 3.8% and American Express rose 4.7%.
Technology companies also rose, but the gains were crimped by a 0.6% drop from Apple after the iPhone maker reportedly warned suppliers that it is seeing weak demand ahead of the holiday season.
Bond yields rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.46% from 1.43% late Wednesday.
U.S. crude oil prices rose 0.9%. OPEC and allied oil-producing countries have decided to maintain the amount of oil they pump to the world even as the new omicron variant potentially threatens the economy. Energy companies gained ground. Chevron rose 2.7%.
The latest coronavirus variant has led countries to impose barriers to travel and stricter restrictions on business and people. Concerns about global restrictions potentially crimping economic growth butted up against concerns about rising inflation this week. The persistence of rising inflation has prompted the Federal Reserve to consider withdrawing stimulus measures sooner than expected.
Travel-related companies, which got hammered earlier this week as worries about the new coronavirus variant swept markets, rebounded Thursday. American Airlines climbed 6.3%, while Delta Air Lines rose 8.9%. Cruise line operators Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line jumped 9.6% and 6.9%, respectively.
Several companies made outsized gains on a mix of corporate news. Supermarket chain Kroger jumped 11.8% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after raising its profit forecast for the year. Software maker Synopsys gained 4.7% after also giving investors an encouraging profit forecast.
Boeing rose 6.8% after China’s aviation regulator cleared the airplane maker’s 737 Max to return to flying with technical upgrades.
Southeast Asia’s largest ride-hailing company Grab fell 20.6% in its market debut Thursday, following a $40 billion merger in a special purpose acquisition company deal.