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Stock Market Today: Tech Leads Market Bounce As Powell Soothes Rate-Cut Nerves

Stock Market Today: Tech Leads Market Bounce As Powell Soothes Rate-Cut Nerves

Tech stocks led the markets higher on Thursday as investors hunting for interest-rate clues shifted focus to the coming US jobs report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose roughly 0.4%, coming off three losing days in a row for the blue-chip index. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) put on 0.7%, while contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) popped about 0.8%, with both gauges building on slight closing gains.

The market is shaking off stocks' rough start to the second quarter after Chair Jerome Powell soothed concerns the Federal Reserve would lose its nerve for making rate cuts.

Recent signs of acceleration in the economy raised the odds of further rate hikes — a so-called "no landing." By sticking to the same tune — that the Fed will cut rates this year, but will choose its moment given inflation's bumpy path downward — Powell appears to have put the debate to rest for now.

Focus is now shifting to the March jobs report, due out Friday morning, a key economic input for the Fed's data-dependent policy decision-making. By and large, experts don't expect to see any sign of cracks in the strong US labor market story.Department of Labor data released on Thursday showed initial jobless claims rose by 9,000 to 221,000 last week, their highest level since January.

On the corporate front, Levi Strauss (LEVI) shares jumped 18% after the jeans maker boosted its full-year earnings forecasts. Meanwhile, BlackBerry's (BB) US-listed stock popped as the Canadian company's cybersecurity unit helped deliver a surprise quarterly profit.