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Stock Market Today - 4/28: Stocks Bounce Back, Tech Boost; GDP Disappoints, Apple In Focus

The Dow finishes up 600 points as the tech sector helps markets rebound from heavy losses.

Updated at 4:15 pm EST

Stocks finished sharply higher Thursday, powered by surging tech stock sentiment, as investors tracked a relentless climb for the dollar and a modest move higher in Treasury bond yields after a report showing a sharp economic slowdown in the U.S.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 660 points, or 1.85%, to 33,916, while the S&P 500 gained 2.47% and the tech-focused Nasdaq surged 3.06%.

The Commerce Department's first estimate of first quarter GDP estimate showed the first contraction in two years amid a sharp slowdown in the world's biggest economy. GDP was pegged at -1.4%, the data indicated, firmly short of the Street estimate of a 1.1% growth rate for the three months ending in March.

The early year Omicron wave, as well as the fastest inflation in forty years and the Federal Reserve's rate hike signaling have all combined to blunt consumer sentiment and slow growth from the near 7% pace recorded over the final three months of last year, while the dollar's recent surge has kept export markets firmly in check.

The dollar index, in fact, is testing the highest levels in 20 years against a basket of its global peers, rising 0.8% on the session to 103.42, with gains built on bets of faster and deeper Fed rate hikes over the coming months.

The CME Group's FedWatch tool now suggests a 96.5% chance of a 50 basis point move early next month, that would take the base Fed Funds rate to a range of 0.75% to 1%, with an 80% chance of a 75 basis point move in June.

On Wall Street, earnings continue to drive sentiment -- as they have for much of the week -- following better-than-expected updates from Facebook parent Meta Platforms  (FB) -  last night, as well as a bullish outlook from Ford Motor Co.  (F) - .

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Investors will also digest another wave of pre-market earnings, with updates from Eli Lilly  (LLY) - , Merck & Co.  (MRK) - , McDonald's  (MCD) - , Mastercard  (MA) -  and Twitter  (TWTR) - , as well as Apple  (AAPL) - , and Intel  (INTC) -  after the close of trading.

Meta Platforms shares surged 17.6% after the social media group posted a rebound in posted a rebound in daily active users that offset a near $3 billion loss in its metaverse and the slowest revenue growth in ten years.

Apple shares ended up 4.5% ahead of its second quarter earnings after the close of trading, perhaps the most anticipated of the reporting season, with investors focused on the tech giant's ability to navigate past chip shortages and production shutdowns to meet demand for its 5G-enabled iPhones.

Amazon  (AMZN) -  shares fell in after-hours trading after the online retail giant posted disappointing results.

McDonalds jumped 2.9% after stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings as menu price hikes and solid global sales helped offset the impact of its suspension of business in Russia and higher food and labor costs.

Eli Lilly gained 4.33% on its better-than-expected first quarter earnings Tuesday, and improved revenue forecast, thanks in part to impressive sales growth for its blockbuster diabetes treatment.

Shares were also given a boost by "best case scenario' data from a late-stage trial of its developing obesity drug, Tirzepatide, which showed patients achieving weight loss of around 22.5% in participating patients.

Rival Merck was up 5% thanks to stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings, and a boost in its full-year profit guidance, as the drugmaker recorded impressive sales of its Covid and cancer treatments.

Ford fell 1.6% after the carmaker held to its full-year profit forecast after a surprise second quarter loss linked in part to a hit from its investment in Rivian Automotive  (RIVN) - .

Teladoc Health  (TDOC) -  shares, meanwhile, collapsed 40%, potentially wiping $4.5 billion in value from the pandemic-era darling after it lowered full-year sales forecasts following a bigger-than-expected first quarter loss.