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Stocks end higher, as defensives, tech shine

STORY: U.S. stocks finished higher Thursday after another choppy session, as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress for a second day, and as investors weighed the risk of more interest rate hikes tipping the economy into recession.

The Dow rose six tenths of a percent. The S&P 500 finished about a percent higher, while the Nasdaq gained more than a percent and a half.

Ryan Belanger is managing principal and founder of Claro Advisors.

"You've got people flushing out comments from Fed Chairman Powell, trying to figure out if he's, you know, going to be more dovish or hawkish. And I think people are just settling in on what the future might look like. And you've got the quarterly rebalance happening tomorrow for a lot of the indices, so that's going to create, you know, a lot of buying and selling in both directions."

Energy stocks slumped again, continuing their recent pullback after soundly outperforming the market for most of 2022. But not Occidental Petroleum, which rose after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought another 9.6 million shares of the oil company.

Tech heavyweights Microsoft and Apple each rose more than 2%, lifting the S&P 500.

And defensive stocks, considered safer bets in times of uncertainty, were among the top-performing sectors Thursday, with utility stocks, consumer staples and healthcare all posting big gains.

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