Solid gains by phone companies and some retailers helped nudge US stocks higher Thursday, a day after the stock market had its biggest drop in eight months. Banks also recouped some of their losses but energy and materials stocks fell.
The rally came a day after the market’s worst drop since September as political tumult deepened in Washington, stoking worries among investors that President Trump may have trouble enacting tax cuts and other business-friendly policies.
‘‘People may be wanting to put money to work in stocks, but the bonds they bought yesterday, they’re still going to keep those as a little bit of a hedge, just in case,’’ said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.4 percent, to 2,365.72. The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.3 percent, to 20,663.02. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.7 percent, to 6,055.13. The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks picked up 0.4 percent, to 1,361.08.
Bond prices slipped. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.23 percent from 2.22 percent.
Despite the day’s gains, the major stock indexes were still on course to end the week in the red.
Stocks appeared headed for another down day early Thursday following sell-offs in Asia and Europe. But better-than-expected quarterly results from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and retailers such as L Brands helped lift the market. Walmart stock rose 3.2 percent, while L Brands rose 2.7 percent, to $49.69.
Traders also welcomed Labor Department data showing that applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nearly three months.
Incyte surged 6.9 percent on growing optimism over its work to develop cancer treatments.
Ascena Retail Group sank 27 percent after it cut its forecast for its fiscal third quarter and full year.
Cisco Systems fell 7.2 percent a day after the Internet gear maker said it expects revenue in its fiscal third quarter to be down from a year earlier. The company also said it was laying off 1,100 workers in addition to the 5,500 job cuts Cisco announced in August.