Stocks end mostly higher, enough for S&P 500 to set record

A wave of buying in the last hour of trading left stocks mostly higher on Wall Street, enough for the S&P 500 to beat the record high close it set in early September. The market had spent most of the day wobbling between gains and losses Thursday. Technology companies did well, despite a steep drop in IBM after the company reported disappointing revenue. IBM’s drop left the Dow Jones Industrial Average just barely in the red for the day. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and the Nasdaq added 0.6%. Tesla rose 3.3% after reporting record profits despite parts shortages and shipping delays.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Stocks wobbled in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday, keeping the S&P 500 near the record high it reached in early September.

The S&P 500 index was up less than 0.1% as of 2:50 p.m. Eastern. The benchmark index is sitting just below the all-time high it reached on Sept. 2. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 93 points, or 0.3%, to 35,515 and is just below its all-time high set on Aug. 16.

The Nasdaq rose 0.4%, while smaller stocks edged lower. The Russell 2000 slipped 0.1%.

U.S. crude oil prices fell 1.1% and weighed down energy stocks. Devon Energy fell 3.4% and Schlumberger fell 1.8%.

Financial companies also fell broadly. Capital One slid 4.1% and Discover Financial Services dropped 6.2%.

A mix of companies that rely on direct consumer spending made gains. Tesla rose 3% after reporting encouraging third-quarter profits, despite parts shortages and shipping delays.

WeWork rose 6.7% in its second attempt to become a publicly traded company. The company, which provides shared workspaces, had a spectacular collapse during its first attempt to do so two years ago and is emerging after the pandemic closed millions of square feet of office space.

Investors are reviewing the latest earnings reports with supply chain problems and the impact from rising inflation as a key focus. Many companies have warned that the supply chain issues and overall higher costs will hurt operations and Wall Street is trying to gauge just how much it will sting corporate profit growth and margins.

Companies seem to be managing those higher costs and encouraging investors who had been uncertain in a very choppy market for weeks, said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.

“Investors were willing to rotate rather than retreat while they waited for better news to take bigger and longer-term positions,” he said.

Wall Street is also concerned that rising inflation will eventually force more companies to raise prices on goods, which could result in lower consumer spending and a stalled economic recovery.

Several carmakers and automotive products companies are making gains following Tesla’s latest earnings. Ford rose 2.6% and AutoZone rose 2.3%.

IBM slumped 8.6% after reporting quarterly revenue that fell shy of analysts’ forecasts.

Shares in a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, that is planning on taking a new media company launched by former President Donald Trump public soared after news of the venture broke late Wednesday. Digital World Acquisition vaulted 390% in afternoon trading. The company, which went public Sept. 8, has merged with Trump Media & Technology Group, which plans to launch a social media app and streaming video service.

Bond yields moved higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.68% from 1.63% late Wednesday.

European markets closed lower and Asian markets ended mixed.

Outside of earnings, investors received an encouraging update on the labor market. The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week to a new low point since the pandemic erupted.