U.S. stocks hit highest since February as tech surges

Published On: July 21, 2020Categories: Stocks & Shares1.8 min read

The S&P 500 turned positive for the year as its rally took it to levels last seen just as the pandemic was starting

U.S. stocks advanced to the highest since February, with the stay-at-home trade thriving even as investors received encouraging news on a potential virus vaccine. The dollar weakened to an almost six-week low.

The S&P 500 turned positive for the year as its rally took it to levels last seen just as the pandemic was starting. The Nasdaq 100 jumped the most since April, hitting a record high, after Amazon.com and Zoom Technologies soared on demand for companies that benefit from diminished economic activity. AstraZeneca jumped to a record after results from a vaccine trial were published, but the rally faded after analysts said the data, while good, weren’t as stellar as hoped for. A slew of earnings are due this week, including from Microsoft, Intel, Tesla and Twitter.

Investors are also keeping an eye on Washington, where lawmakers are starting to hammer out a rescue package to replace some of the expiring benefits earlier versions contained.

Euro-area leaders appeared close to an agreement on stimulus, while the total size of the recovery package is in flux, an earlier proposal was for 750 billion euros ($858 billion).

Italy’s 10-year bond yield spread over Germany, a key gauge of risk in the euro region, fell to the lowest level since March. Oil climbed above $40 a barrel. European stocks advanced.

While stock markets have inched higher in recent weeks, there are still plenty of worries about the health of the global economy, especially with the virus spreading unabated in parts of the U.S.

In the euro area, unemployment could hit almost 10% by the end of the year as the economy slumps, according to a Bloomberg survey.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to close down all bars and restaurants if large street gatherings continue and his social distance and mask regulations aren’t enforced.

Hong Kong added a record 108 infections, will require civil servants to work from home and plans to mandate wearing of masks in all shared indoor areas.

The economic dislocation of Covid-19 triggered a tremendous response by fiscal and monetary policy makers as well as central banks, said Gene Tannuzzo, a portfolio manager at Columbia Threadneedle. These measures helped to stabilize markets, yet we still find ourselves in an environment of continuous low growth.

About the Author: Jonathan Adams

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