US Stocks Rise as Fed Chief Addresses Congress Again

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks rose in morning trading on Wall Street Thursday and added to gains for the week as investors remain focused on inflation and rising interest rates.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5% as of 10:18 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 101 points, or 0.3%, to 30,580 and the Nasdaq rose 0.7%.

Big technology and health care companies did much of the heavy lifting. Microsoft rose 1.2% and Johnson & Johnson rose 1.5%.

Energy stocks fell as oil prices edged lower. Valero fell 2.6%.

Bond yields fell significantly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.03% from 3.15% late Wednesday.

Major indexes are on track for weekly gains amid turbulent trading and a broader slump that has kept the benchmark S&P 500 in the red for 10 of the last 11 weeks. Stocks have swung between sharp gains and losses as investors try to determine whether a recession is looming.

The central bank is attempting to temper inflation's impact with higher interest rates, but Wall Street is worried that it could go too far in slowing economic growth and actually bring on a recession.

Investors are monitoring Fed Chair Jerome Powell's second day of testimony to Congress. He is testifying to a House committee Thursday, a day after testifying to a Senate committee.

On Wednesday Powell said a recession was "certainly a possibility" as the U.S. central bank tries to rein in inflation. He is speaking to Congress a week after the Fed raised its benchmark interest rate by three quarters of a percentage point, its biggest hike in nearly three decades. Fed policymakers also forecast a more accelerated pace of rate hikes this year and next than they had predicted three months ago, with its key rate to reach 3.8% by the end of 2023. That would be its highest level in 15 years.

Earlier Thursday the Labor Department said fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the U.S. job market remains robust despite four-decade high inflation. The solid job market is a bright point in an otherwise weakening economy, with consumer sentiment and retail sales showing increasing damage from inflation.

Stubbornly high inflation and weak data from other sectors of the economy remain a key concern for Wall Street. High prices on everything from food to clothing have pressured consumers to shift spending from big ticket items like electronics to necessities. The pressure has been worsened by record-high gasoline prices that show no sign of abating amid a supply and demand disconnect.