A currency trader walks by a screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at a bank's foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 3, 2021. Shares were mostly lower in Asia in thin trading Monday, with many markets including those in Tokyo and Shanghai closed for holidays. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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 rose 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 rose 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 added 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 picked up 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 behaviors 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 rose 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.
On the economic front, a report on U.S. manufacturing activity in April came in below economists' expectations, but still was strong for the month. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index came in at 60.7 for April, compared with the 65.0 reading that was expected. However that figure is still well above the 50-point mark that indicates expanding manufacturing activity.
A report on U.S. construction spending showed similar results, making gains but still falling short of economists' forecasts. Spending on construction projects rose just 0.2% in March, the Commerce Department said Monday, significantly less than the 1.7% jump economists had expected.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note slipped to 1.60% from 1.65% late Friday.
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