US stocks close mixed; S&P 500 notches another record high

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 | Damian J. Troise And Alex Veiga, AP Business Writers


In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, traders work on the floor Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Stocks wobbled between small gains and losses in afternoon trading on Wall Street Wednesday, hovering around their record highs as investors remain cautiously optimistic about the economic recovery. (Colin Ziemer/New York Stock Exchange via AP)

Wall Street capped another choppy day of trading Wednesday with a mixed finish for stock indexes and another all-time high for the S&P 500.

The benchmark index inched up 0.1% after spending much of the day wavering between small gains and losses. Technology, communication and financial companies helped lift the market, offsetting a pullback led by industrials, materials and health care stocks. Treasury yields were also mixed.

The broader market has been mostly subdued this week as investors remain cautiously optimistic about the economic recovery. Vaccine distribution has been ramping up and President Joe Biden has bumped up his deadline for states to make doses available to all adults by April 19. The vaccines are helping to fuel a recovery, but the virus is still very much a threat as variants are discovered and threaten additional lockdowns.

The S&P 500 rose 6.01 points to 4,079.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 16.02 points, or 0.1%, to 33,446.26. The Nasdaq composite slipped 9.54 points, or 0.1%, to 13,688.84. The S&P 500 and Dow each set record highs on Monday.

Small company stocks, which have been outgaining the broader market this year, took the brunt of the selling. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 36.10 points, or 1.6%, to 2,223.05. The index is up 12.6% so far this year, while the S&P 500, which tracks large companies, is up 8.6%.

Analysts expect the economy to recover this year, but they also anticipate the market remain choppy as investors shift money to companies and industries that stand to benefit as the pandemic eases.

Carnival, which essentially shut down during the pandemic, rose 1.4% Wednesday. The company said bookings have picked up. Other cruise line operators also gained ground as they plan to restart operations.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury inched up to 1.66% after moving up and down for much of the day. A sharp increase in bond yields since the beginning of the year reflects a growing concern among investors that inflation could return as economic growth heats up and the U.S. pulls out of its pandemic-induced recession. Higher yields can slow down the economy by making it more expensive for people and businesses to borrow money.

The stock indexes were little changed Wednesday following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting on interest rate policy.

The minutes revealed that Fed officials were encouraged last month by evidence the U.S. economy was picking up, but they showed no sign of moving closer to ending their bond purchases or lifting their benchmark short-term interest rate from nearly zero.

Fed policymakers also said they expect inflation will likely rise in the next few months because of supply bottlenecks, but they believe it will remain near their 2% target over the longer run.

“Nothing was all that surprising from the minutes," said Stephanie Roth, senior markets economist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. "The Fed is watching closely, not just the unemployment rate, but they’re really focusing on bringing back the population that has fallen out of the labor force.”

The minutes are from a Fed meeting that came before last week’s March jobs report, which showed a surprisingly strong 916,000 positions were added that month, the most since August, and the unemployment rate fell to 6% from 6.2%.

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7 Hotel Stocks Just Waiting For the Vaccine

Like any group of stocks related to travel and tourism, hotel stocks saw a steep drop in share prices in 2020. The leisure and hospitality sector that once had 15 million employees has lost 4 million jobs since February.

Many major cities will be feeling the ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic for years. However, there is ample evidence that shows the pandemic may be coming to an end. The number of new cases is dropping. The number of those getting vaccinated is rising. And even in the cities with the most restrictive mitigation measures, the slow process of reopening is beginning.

All of this can’t come fast enough for individuals who rely on the travel and tourism industry for their livelihood. Hotel chains had at least some revenue coming in the door. And when earnings season concludes, the more budget-friendly hotel chains may realize revenue that is 75% of its 2019 numbers. But that is not enough to bring the hotels to anywhere near full employment. Particularly with hotels that have bars and restaurants that have remained closed or open at limited capacity.

Many economists are optimistic that travel may begin to look more normal by the summer of this year. And the global economy may deliver 6.4% GDP growth this year. With that in mind, the hotel chains with the best fundamentals and the broadest footprint will be in the best position as the economy reopens.

View the "7 Hotel Stocks Just Waiting For the Vaccine".


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