NEW YORK - Wall Street jumped on Thursday, and was on track to end a holiday-shortened and tumultuous week in positive territory as investors returned to technology stocks.
As March drew to a close, however, the S&P 500 <.SPX> and the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> were on pace for their worst quarterly declines in more than two years.
"Markets are closing out a weak quarter as they adjust to a new regime of higher rates, potential higher inflation and political uncertainty," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York. "Fundamentals, however, like economic growth and equity valuations, remain supportive."
The year started strong, but early gains evaporated as the markets entered a correction over interest rate jitters, fears of a global trade war, and a selloff in the tech sector.
Tech stocks reversed course on Thursday as the S&P 500 information technology index <.SPLRCT> rose 2.5 percent and helped push the S&P 500 more than 1 percent higher, with the Dow and Nasdaq also rallying.
Technology gains were led by Facebook <FB.O>, Apple <AAPL.O>, Alphabet <GOOGL.O> and Microsoft <MSFT.O> shares.
"Tech recovered after a weak few days as the sector remains one of the few to offer very strong growth in the near future," said Carter.
At 2:13PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was up 365.84 points, or 1.53 percent, at 24,214.26, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 41.9 points, or 1.61 percent, to 2,646.9 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 136.93 points, or 1.97 percent, to 7,086.15.
Trading volume was light ahead of the long holiday weekend.
Investors were unfazed by economic reports showing a slight increase in consumer spending and initial jobless claims dropping to more than a 45-year low.
In other data, core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) rose by 1.6 percent year-on-year. The price index is the U.S. Federal Reserve's preferred inflation measure, and has been below the central bank's 2 percent target since mid-2012.
Amazon.com <AMZN.O> climbed 1.0 percent, recovering from a 4.6 percent drop after President Donald Trump criticized the online retailer via Twitter early Thursday, claiming without evidence that the company pays "little to no taxes to state & local governments."
Stocks shot up earlier in the week as comments from officials in the United States and China suggested the world's two largest economies would renegotiate tariffs and trade imbalances, averting a trade war.
But trade war fears led global investors to cut their equity exposure to a four-month low in March and reduce their holdings of U.S. stocks to the lowest in nearly two years, according to a Reuters poll.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 5.03-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.57-to-1 ratio favored advancers.