Health care, energy sectors push Wall Street higher

by Jonathan Adams
Wall Street

The S&P 500 index advanced 11.49 points to 4,192.66, the DJIA gained 238.38 points, or 0.7%, to 34,113.23, and the Nasdaq lost 67.56 points, or 0.5%, to 13,895.12

Health care and energy companies helped push stocks higher Monday, as Wall Street kicked off the first trading day in May with more gains after a four-month winning streak.

The S&P 500 increased 0.3%. Industrial and financial stocks also helped lift the market. Falling technology and communication stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending kept the market’s gains in check. Treasury yields were mixed.

Investors welcomed new economic data indicating the economy is strengthening. They also continued to focus on the latest batch of corporate earnings reports, which have been mostly encouraging and have helped fuel optimism about a solid economic recovery this year.

In terms of earnings, we’re in a good place, said Hilary Kramer, chief investment officer for Kramer Capital Research. The good news is that we’re getting excellent guidance from these companies.

The S&P 500 index advanced 11.49 points to 4,192.66. The benchmark index’s latest gains follow a 5.2% surge in April, its best month since November 2020, when President Joe Biden was elected. It logged a gain of about 28% between November and April.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 238.38 points, or 0.7%, to 34,113.23. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shed an early gain and lost 67.56 points, or 0.5%, to 13,895.12.

Smaller companies, which have outgained the broader market this year, also had a good showing. The Russell 2000 index added 11 points, or 0.5%, to 2,277.45.

Stocks have been grinding higher on expectations of an economic recovery and strong company profits this year as large-scale coronavirus vaccination programs help people return to jobs and normal behaviours after more than a year of restrictions. Massive support from the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve, and increasingly positive economic data, have also helped put investors in a buying mood, keeping stock indexes near their all-time highs.

More than half of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their results so far this earnings season, which show profit growth of 54% so far, according to FactSet.

This will be another busy week for earnings reports, with Merck, Pepsi, Colgate-Palmolive and CVS among the companies reporting their latest quarterly results. Investors will also get April’s jobs report on Friday.

While earnings have been solid, the market still faces several key risks, Kramer said, including a spike in COVID-19 cases in India shutting down manufacturing and commerce and hurting the global economic recovery, along with inflation concerns.

Among the biggest gainers Monday were oilfield services company Baker Hughes, which vaulted 8%, clothing retailer Gap Inc., which jumped 7.2%, and flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries, which climbed 7.5%.

Shares of Verizon Communications added 0.2% after the company announced it would sell off the remnants of Yahoo! and AOL into a new company backed by private equity firm Apollo Global Management. Verizon bought Yahoo and AOL’s media assets about six years ago in an effort to compete with Google and Facebook, but the effort never panned out and Verizon returned its focus to its traditional wireless cell operations.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway advanced 1.5% after the billionaire investor named his successor after years of speculation. Greg Abel, who runs Berkshire Hathaway’s non-insurance business, will step into the CEO role when Buffett retires.

This article is for information purposes only.
Please remember that financial investments may rise or fall and past performance does not guarantee future performance in respect of income or capital growth; you may not get back the amount you invested.
There is no obligation to purchase anything but, if you decide to do so, you are strongly advised to consult a professional adviser before making any investment decisions.

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