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U.S. Stocks Close at Records


FEBRUARY 8, 2021

Stocks rose to records Monday as investors wagered that a new round of stimulus spending would bolster the economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 237.52 points, or 0.8%, to close at 31385.76, continuing its climb after the blue-chip index posted its biggest one-week advance since November.

The S&P 500 rose 28.76 points, or 0.7%, to 3915.59, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 131.35 points, or 0.9%, to close at 13987.64. All three indexes ended the day at records.

Stocks have powered higher in recent trading sessions, putting the volatility sparked by swings in GameStop and other individual stocks in the rearview mirror. Investors are focusing on the prospect for a new batch of government spending. They say that could boost growth at a time when large companies are reporting robust profits but the broader economic outlook is patchy.

Democrats took a series of votes last week unlocking a process called reconciliation, which will allow the party to approve President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan without Republican support in the Senate. House lawmakers are aiming to finalize and vote on a relief bill before the end of February.

The combination of strong quarterly earnings reports from some of the biggest U.S. companies and the possibility of more relief for the economy has given markets a shot in the arm, according to Daniel Morris, chief market strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

“It’s like your birthday and Christmas on the same day, and the markets are all happy,” said Mr. Morris.

Another round of stimulus spending in the U.S., a net importer, also would be a boon for overseas stock markets, according to Mr. Morris. “If you’ve got your…motors of growth in the U.S. and China doing very well this year, that helps everyone,” he said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNN on Sunday that the U.S. could return to full employment next year if lawmakers pass Mr. Biden’s stimulus package.

Markets also have been buoyed by an upbeat set of earnings for the holiday quarter from large U.S. companies. Of the 295 companies on the S&P 500 that had reported by early Monday, 81% had beaten analysts’ expectations for earnings growth, according to FactSet.

Shares of Loews gained 62 cents, or 1.3%, to $48.42 after the insurance, hotel and energy company reported an increase in profit.

Oil markets continued to rally, pushing Brent crude futures above $60 a barrel for the first time since January 2020, before the pandemic. The global energy benchmark rose 2.1% to settle at $60.56 a barrel.

The oil rally helped make energy stocks the best-performing sector of the S&P 500. Ten of the index’s 11 sectors ended Monday in positive territory, with only utilities, a traditionally defensive play, declining.

The market is in the midst of a broad “reflation trade” that is fueling gains in sectors that were beaten down by last year’s coronavirus slowdown, as well as small-cap stocks and emerging markets, said Paul Christopher, head of global market strategy at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

He chalked up investors’ bullish mood to stimulus hopes, substantial savings the have piled up among U.S. consumers during the pandemic and hopes that Covid-19 vaccinations will let that money come pouring back into the economy later this year. “There’s a lot of dry powder on the sidelines waiting to be spent,” Mr. Christopher said.

Bitcoin jumped 14% to about $44,009, according to CoinDesk, after Tesla said it had invested $1.5 billion in the digital currency. The electric-vehicle maker also said that it expects to begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment. Tesla shares rose $11.19, or 1.3%, to $863.42.

In other corporate news, Palantir Technologies surged $2, or 5.9%, to $36.05 after the data-analytics company said it was partnering with IBM on certain cloud applications for businesses.

Some stocks heavily favored by online traders on Reddit forums continued to shed value, after steep losses last week. GameStop shares fell $3.77, or 5.9%, to $60. AMC Entertainment dropped 65 cents, or 9.5%, to $6.18.

Overseas, the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.3%. In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1%. The Nikkei 225 advanced 2.1% after Nikkei Asia reported that Japan will consider lifting a coronavirus state of emergency in some prefectures ahead of a new deadline.

SoftBank Group shares climbed more than 4% in Tokyo after the giant technology investor posted a $11 billion quarterly profit, largely on the back of investment gains.

In government bonds, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes slipped to 1.159% from 1.168% Friday. Bond yields move the opposite direction from prices.

Courtesy/Source: WSJ


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