US stocks rise on positive economic data amid ongoing Ukraine-Russia talks

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday afternoon on a string of positive economic data as talks between Russia and Ukraine continue a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised its key federal funds rate for the first time since 2018.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2% to 4,411.67, the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.3% to 13,614.78 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose 1.2% to 34,480.76 . All three indexes were down earlier in the trading session. All sectors were in the green, energy in the lead.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures jumped 8.6% to $103.23 a barrel. The International Energy Agency expects global supply to remain tight as financial sanctions and buyer reluctance keep much of Russia’s eight-million-barrel-a-day crude and refined exports off of the market. The agency cut its demand estimate for this year by nearly a million barrels a day.

Gold for April delivery jumped 1.4% to $1,936.40 an ounce; silver climbed 3% to $25.45 an ounce. Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund rose 8% to $73.71 and the United States Natural Gas Fund rose 4.1% to $17.37.

The US 10-year rate rose more than a basis point to 2.20%.

Highlights of Thursday’s economic data calendar were an increase in housing starts, a drop in initial weekly jobless claims and an increase in industrial production led by manufacturing.

Housing starts rose 6.8% to an annual rate of 1.769 million in February, against expectations for a weaker gain, with single-family and multi-family housing starts both higher. Initial jobless claims fell by 15,000 to 214,000 in the week of the jobs survey ending March 12. Continuing requests, which are lagged by a week, fell about 1.4 million from 1.5 million – the lowest level for continuing requests in 52 years, according to Jefferies. Industrial production rose 0.5% in February, in line with expectations and after gaining 1.4% in January.

As expected, the Fed raised interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, for the first time in three years. The Federal Open Market Committee has struck a hawkish tone in highlighting concerns about runaway inflation and pledging to raise rates multiple times this year, Stifel said in a research note Thursday.

The Kremlin reportedly said on Thursday that Russia was deploying “colossal” energy to reach a potential peace deal with Ukraine, but saw no such “zeal” from kyiv, Reuters said.

The biggest gainers in the S&P 500 were energy companies such as Occidental Petroleum (OXY), APA (APA) and Devon Energy (DVN), ending with gains of between 7% and 10%. Diamondback Energy (FANG) and Marathon Oil (MRO) both closed up nearly 7%.

The worst performer in the S&P 500 was SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG), with shares down 5.9% as the company announced a proposed registered public offering of 2 million common shares.

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