U.S. stocks indexes were mixed on Thursday as gains in healthcare and megacap technology stocks offset losses in energy and other economically sensitive sectors amid growing recession fears.
Trading has remained volatile after a bruising selloff last week sparked by concerns that aggressive interest rate hikes to tame stubborn inflation could hurt economic growth and corporate profits.
As government bond yields fell to two-week lows, rate-sensitive growth and technology stocks gained, with Apple Inc (AAPL.O) adding 0.8% and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) 0.9%.
Sectors considered as safer bets in equities such as healthcare (.SPXHC), consumer staples (.SPLRCS), real estate (.SPLRCR) and utilities (.SPLRCU) gained more than 1%, while energy stocks (.SPNY) slid 4.7% as crude prices fell $1 a barrel.
"You're in the bottoming process and you'll get these little bounces," said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management.
The benchmark S&P 500 has struggled to make a headway after it confirmed a bear market last week, marking a 20% decline from its record closing peak in January.
"What we really need is for earnings estimates to come down ... to establish a good bottom. Despite all the talks of recession, earnings revisions are still positive so far this year."
In his second day of testimony to Congress, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank's commitment to rein in 40-year-high inflation is "unconditional" but it comes with the risk of higher unemployment.
Big Wall Street banks Citigroup (C.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) now see a bigger chance of a recession. read more
Rising inflation is also taking a toll on consumer confidence as latest data showed business activity slowed considerably in June.
At 12:49 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was down 138.70 points, or 0.46%, at 30,344.43, the S&P 500 (.SPX) was down 6.39 points, or 0.17%, at 3,753.50, and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was up 40.19 points, or 0.36%, at 11,093.27.
Bank stocks dropped, with Bank of America (BAC.N) down 3.6% ahead of the Fed's 2022 stress test results, which will assess how much capital banks would need to withstand a severe economic downturn.
Snowflake Inc (SNOW.N) climbed 8.9% after J.P. Morgan upgraded the cloud software company's stock to "overweight" from "neutral".
Meanwhile, U.S. corporations with big oversees operations have started to flag risks from dollar, which hit a 20-year high earlier this month.
Accenture Plc fell 1.1% after IT services company tempered its earnings expectations for the year due to rising inflation and a stronger dollar. read more
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.00-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.25-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 38 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 26 new highs and 133 new lows.