S&P 500 closes at record high, Nasdaq jumps as tech rises

by Jonathan Adams

The S&P 500 finished at record highs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week

The S&P 500 closed at another record high on Tuesday and the Nasdaq composite index jumped, as investors shook off concerns about the halt in Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and strong U.S. inflation.

The drugmaker’s shares reached a one-month low before recovering some of its losses, as calls for pausing the use of its COVID-19 vaccine after six women developed rare blood clots dealt a fresh setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic.

The news came as U.S. data showed the consumer price index (CPI) in March rose by the most in more than 8-1/2 years, kicking off what the majority of economists expect will be a brief period of higher inflation.

U.S. futures initially fell on the J&J news, but pared losses after the CPI data. Strong demand for Tuesday lunchtime’s U.S. Treasuries issue pushed down yields further, highlighting investors’ lack of concern about any imminent jump in interest rates.

Instead, high-flying technology names that flourished during pandemic-induced lockdowns last year attracted renewed buying that boosted Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

The wider technology sector also rose, as did the NYSE FANG+TM Index for a record 12th session in a row.

The S&P 500 finished at record highs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week.

The real curveball today is the J&J vaccine halt, although this too may be shrugged off as a minor setback. While this may cause some short-term volatility, investors have been pretty steadfast in their faith in a full economic recovery, said Mike Loewengart, managing director at investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 65.96 points, or 0.2%, to 33,679.44, the S&P 500 added 13.67 points, or 0.33%, to 4,141.66 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 146.10 points, or 1.05%, to 13,996.10.

Highlighting investors’ unfazed attitudes was the volatility index, which intraday slid beneath the 14-month closing low hit on Friday.

This year, 20 had proved to be a bit of a floor, but what we’ve seen from the start of this month is the VIX broke down through that level and established its trading range at mid-teens, which is notable for the broader risk environment as we enter earnings season, said Greg Boutle, U.S. head of equity and derivative strategy at BNP Paribas.

First-quarter earnings season begins in earnest on Wednesday, with the first reports expected from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.

This article is for information purposes only.
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