US Stocks Slightly Higher; Bonds Lower

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks were moderately higher in early trading Thursday, helped again by large technology stocks that have benefitted from a drop in bond yields. Bank stocks and energy companies fell, which muted the market's overall gains.

The S&P 500 index was up 0.2% as of 10 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.2%, pulled lower by banks and energy companies that dominate that index, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 1%.

The stock market has benefited the past week from a cooling off in the bond market. Bond yields, which had been steadily ticking higher, have retreated from highs hit earlier in the month. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down to 1.64% from Wednesday's 1.65%. It had been as high as 1.75% on Monday.

Tech stocks were the biggest benefactors, with Apple and Microsoft shares up 1%. Amazon and Google's parent company Alphabet were also up roughly 1%.

Investors are showing cautious optimism about the economic recovery, especially in the U.S., where vaccine distribution has been ramping up and President Joe Biden has advanced the deadline for states to make doses available to all adults to April 19.

But it's clear the economy has much to do when it comes to recovery. The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week rose again last week, as many businesses remain closed or partially shut down due to the pandemic.

Shares were little changed Wednesday following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting on interest rates.

The minutes revealed that Fed officials were encouraged last month by evidence the U.S. economy was picking up, but they showed no sign of moving closer to ending their bond purchases or lifting their benchmark short-term interest rate from nearly zero.

Investors will get more color on the Fed's thinking later today, when Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will speak in front of the International Monetary Fund starting at 12 p.m. ET.