Stocks staged a dramatic comeback Thursday following the previous session's sell-off, as investors looked to move beyond concerns about the Omicron variant.
Shares of the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 617 points, or 1.82%, to 34,639, while the S&P 500 advanced 1.42% and the Nasdaq gained 0.83%.
Markets were rattled on Wednesday after the first confirmed case of the Omicron coronavirus variant was reported in the U.S. just days after the variant was first discovered in South Africa.
In addition, investors were cautious following Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's hawkish comments on rates and inflation, and what appears to be a pledge to complete the central bank's bond purchase tapering in the first half of next year.
"The last week has been full of surprises, though in retrospect a new Covid variant was only a question of when, and the Fed throttling down QE when inflation was racing was probably overdue," said Louis Navellier, chief investment officer at Navellier & Associates.
"The more important trends — strong earnings, a strong consumer, above-average GDP growth — remain intact and still leave stocks attractive."
Initial jobless claims totaled 222,000 for the week ended Nov. 27, compared with Wall Street's expectation of 240,000.
"While the backdrop of uncertainty regarding omicron definitely isn’t helping the market, we’re getting some relatively positive news on the labor market front," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment management for E*Trade Financial.
"With ADP and jobless claims coming in better than expected, we’ll have to see if the full employment picture tomorrow can carry the torch to continue the forward momentum when it comes to jobs."
Loewengart added that "these numbers are backward looking, so with the new variant coming to light only in the past week, it remains to be seen how it could play a role in effecting the workforce and our economic recovery at large."
Boeing (BA ) - Get Boeing Company Reportwas the Dow's top gainer, finishing up 7.6%, after authorities in China cleared the path for a return to service of the troubled 737 MAX in the world's biggest aircraft market.
Uber Technologies (UBER) - Get Uber Technologies, Inc. Report rose 5.80% after analysts at UBS named the ride-hailing giant one of their top stock picks and said they expect the company's shares could more than double from current levels.
Snowflake (SNOW) - Get Snowflake, Inc. Class A Report surged nearly 16% after the data-analytics software provider announced a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss and provided strong forward sales guidance
Kroger (KR) - Get Kroger Co. Report advanced 11% after the biggest U.S. grocery chain posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings and boosted its full-year profit guidance.