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Dow jumps 350 points on first day of December, trimming recent losses caused by omicron variant

U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, the first trading day of December, as certain companies that benefit from the economic reopening reversed some of their recent losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 360 points, or 1%, while the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 rose 1.4% and 1.1%, respectively. The Dow was up more than 500 points at session highs.

The gains follow a Tuesday sell-off on Wall Street over fears about the new omicron Covid variant and the Federal Reserve mulling a quicker-than-planned exit from its easy monetary policy.

Treasury yields also moved notably higher, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury note climbing back toward 1.5% after falling 8 basis points Tuesday to 1.45% on fears that the pandemic would stifle economic growth.

Energy shares posted sharp gains, with Occidental Petroleum and Baker Hughes each rising more than 3% as West Texas Intermediate prices climbed about 4% to nearly $69 a barrel.

Retail and apparel stocks were strong in early trading, with Gap and Ralph Lauren adding more than 3% and PVH gaining nearly 4%. Bank stocks also rose. JPMorgan and Wells Fargo gained 2% apiece and Goldman Sachs added 1.5%.

The moves came a day after the Dow lost more than 650 points, the S&P 500 shed 1.9% and the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite dipped 1.6%. The small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 tumbled 1.9% as cyclical names dragged on the markets.

“Our sense is that the recent selloff is a longer-term buying opportunity. However, investors that want to avoid a potential big drawdown (while giving up some potential upside) may want to wait until the [Fed’s] Dec. 15 meeting,” Wolfe Research strategist Chris Senyek said in a note to clients.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell jolted markets on Tuesday after he said the central bank is expected to discuss speeding up the taper of its minimum $120 billion a month bond-buying program. Despite the potential disruption of omicron, the Fed chief said he thinks reducing the pace of monthly bond buys can move quicker than the $15 billion-a-month schedule announced earlier this month.

“I think that the taper need not be a disruptive event in markets. I don’t expect that it will be. It hasn’t been so far. We’ve telegraphed it,” Powell said during Congressional testimony on Wednesday.

Goldman Sachs said it projects the Fed will double the pace to $30 billion a month and enact its first rate hike of the pandemic era in June.

Stocks took a leg higher on Wednesday morning after the November manufacturing report from ISM, which matched expectations and showed a decline in prices paid.

The major averages have seen several volatile sessions, starting last Friday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its worst day since October 2020 on concerns about the new Covid variant that was first detected in South Africa. Stocks rebounded on Monday, only to turn downward again on Tuesday.

Stocks wrapped up a volatile month of trading on Tuesday. The Dow lost 3.7% for its second month of losses in three. The S&P 500 fell 0.8%, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.25% in November. The Russell 2000 shed 4.3% in November, its worst month since March 2020.

Still, the major averages are up solidly for the year. The Dow is up 12.7% and the S&P 500 is up 21.6% in 2021. The Nasdaq Composite is up an impressive 20.6% this year.

ADP’s private payroll data for November showed 534,000 jobs added that month, above expectations of 506,000.

Elsewhere, November’s IHS Markit manufacturing PMI came in at 58.3, lower than expected. October construction spending also rose slower than expected, but there was a positive historical revision to help offset the miss.


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