The benchmark S&P 500 stock index closed at a 10-week high Wednesday, following upbeat quarterly results from retailers Target and Lowe’s that had investors focused on American businesses reopening and the coronavirus pandemic beginning to recede.
But stocks came off the session’s best levels as a bill to delist Chinese companies on U.S. exchanges cleared the Senate.
How did benchmarks fare?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.15% advanced 369.04 points, or 1.5%, to finish at 24,575.90. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.02% climbed 48.67 points, or 1.7%, to end at 2,971.61, its highest close since March 6, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.68% rose 190.67 points, or 2.1%, closing at 9,375.78.
On Tuesday, the Dow fell 390.51 points, or 1.6%, to end at 24,206.86, near a session low, while the S&P 500 index shed 30.97 points, or 1.1%, to finish at 2,922.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 49.72 points, or 0.5%, to close at 9,185.10.
The Nasdaq is only a 4.5% away from its all-time record high in February, supported by recent strength in technology and internet stocks during the coronavirus pandemic.
What drove the market?
Investors focused on the positives and directed their attention to wider reopening plans that are taking place throughout the U.S. Many states have been lifting restrictions on business and personal activity ahead of the Memorial Day holiday next Monday.
Lowe’s Cos . /zigman2/quotes/205563664/composite LOW +0.48% also reported sales and profit significantly above expectations, while Target Corp . /zigman2/quotes/207799045/composite TGT -0.42% beat estimates on revenue and sales growth, with digital sales soaring 141%, underscoring some resilience among the retail sector’s biggest companies during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gains were led by technology stocks with Facebook shares advancing 6% to finish at a record high. Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -0.54% shares also hit an all-time record, closing higher by 2%. However, energy, financials and industrial sectors were all higher too.
“There are still consumers with jobs that still feel secure,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, in an interview.
She pointed to new mortgage applications that rose 6% last week , according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. “You don’t start the mortgage application process unless you feel financially secure,” said Krosby.
Still, investors may have to contend with a long, uneven road toward recovery from prospective recession.
“You have an undecided market,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, told MarketWatch. “One day it’s risk on, the next it isn’t. But the market certainly doesn’t want to fall apart, and it doesn’t want to explode on the upside either.”
Financial markets have been supported by the Federal Reserve’s programs to combat the coronavirus crisis and the increase in its balance sheet to nearly $7 trillion.
Minutes of the Fed’s last policy meeting in April published Wednesday showed officials also discussed how to convince markets that interest rates will stay low for a long time.