US stocks end choppy session mostly up


File: Victims believed that magic could turn black pieces of paper into US dollars.

File: Victims believed that magic could turn black pieces of paper into US dollars.

NEW YORK - Wall Street stocks finished mostly higher Thursday as worries about increased interest rates ebbed somewhat, but market insiders continued to warn of more volatility ahead.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average led the major indices, jumping 0.7 percent to close at 24,962.48.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 0.1 percent to 2,703.96, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.1 percent to 7,210.09.

The session was a clear improvement after two days of losses, yet trading remained choppy as the major indices finished well below their session highs.

Analysts are girding for a continuation of the recent volatility on equities markets amid expectations the Federal Reserve will boost interest rates three or four times in 2018. 

Higher interest rates could crimp growth and prod investors to steer funds away from equities towards bonds. Investors have ping-ponged between feeling encouraged at the pickup in economic growth and worried about inflation.

But after a year of steady upward movement, some think stocks prices are inflated.

"Despite the correction, the market is still too high," said Phil Davis of PSW Investment, who said stock valuations remain excessive relative to corporate earnings.

"The market needs to come back down."  Davis said. "I have a bullish overall outlook but at this particular moment it is overpriced."

Petroleum-linked shares bounced on higher oil prices. Halliburton and Dow member ExxonMobil both rose 1.3 percent, while ConocoPhillips advanced 2.2 percent.

In general, industrial companies were the standouts of the Dow, with Boeing winning 1.0 percent, Caterpillar 2.3 percent and 3M 1.7 percent.