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Market Snapshot

June 2, 2020, 4:43 p.m. EDT

Dow closes 267 points higher as Wall Street focuses on easing coronavirus lockdowns amid civil unrest

Curfews continue across major American cities

By Chris Matthews, MarketWatch , Joy Wiltermuth


AFP/Getty Images

The Dow ended higher for a second straight day Tuesday, as investors trained their attention on the prospect of fuller business activity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, rather than the fresh round of civil unrest in major U.S. cities.

President Donald Trump reiterated threats to deploy military troops across cities facing protests if governors and local officials prove unable to contain violent demonstrations.

How did benchmarks perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) rose 267.63 points, or 1.1%, to end at 25,742.65, the S&P 500 index (S&P:SPX)  rose 25.09 points, or 0.8%, closing at 3,080.82, and the Nasdaq Composite Index (AMERICAN:COMP) advanced 56.33 points, or 0.6%, to finish at 9,608.37, after trading negative earlier in the session.

On Monday, the Dow rose 91.91 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 25,475.02, after trading negative at the start of Monday’s session. The S&P 500 rose 11.42 points, or 0.4%, to end at 3,055.73. The Nasdaq Composite added 62.18 points, or 0.7%, to close at 9,552.05.

What drove the market?

A restart of business activity from the closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been cited as the main reason behind the market’s ability to shake off a number of persistent worries of late, including Sino-American tensions and civil unrest in America.

“This has largely been about the pace of the economic restart, which appears to be coming online somewhat more quickly than believed to be the case even a month or six weeks ago,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

“Certainly there are a host of headline risks out there, but with some of the social unrest activities that’s something the market is looking through,” as there is little fear, so far, that it will impact corporate profits, he added.

Monday night saw a fresh round of conflicts between law enforcement and protesters, which prompted Trump to taunt state governors on Twitter Tuesday for refusing his offer to dispatch troops to quell the demonstrations.

Trump said late Monday at the White House, “If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Major cities from Los Angeles to New York have been engulfed in nightly protests after George Floyd, a black man, died last Monday following a confrontation with police in Minneapolis in which a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, was captured on video driving his knee onto Floyd’s neck until the handcuffed man lost consciousness and later died.

Curfews were set to continue across 40 U.S. cities Tuesday night , with New York City’s curfew tightening by three hours, starting at 8 a.m. Eastern and ending at 5 a.m., extending the first such curfew in the city in decades.

“New York City was looted yesterday,” New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday in his daily COVID-19 briefing, which outlined plans for the state to soon reopen, even with the outbreak of unrest in Manhattan and poorer neighborhoods.

“The curfew is not to harass protesters and law-abiding citizens,” Cuomo said, but he also called out New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Police Department for failing to protect people and their property overnight.

Turmoil in the streets has yet to rattle the calm in U.S. stocks. The popular Cboe Volatility Index (845:VIX) , a gauge that tracks implied volatility in the S&P 500 stock index using options, fell 4.9% Tuesday to 26.84, its lowest closing level since late February, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

“Most people on Main Street think it’s crazy where the stock market is trading, especially on a day where you have major protests happening in the U.S.,” Sam Hendel, president of Levin Easterly Partners, a New York asset management firm, told MarketWatch.

He pointed to the unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus to the coronavirus crisis as benefiting stocks. “Overall, I’m still constructive on equity versus fixed-income. There’s no return in credit right now with the risk-free rate close to zero.”

Which stocks were in focus?

  • Stitch Fix Inc . (NAS:SFIX)  shares gained 2.5% after the company notified roughly 1,400 California stylists Monday, or about 18% of its total staff, that they would be losing their jobs.

  • Square Inc . (NYS:SQ)  shares gained 6.4%, booking the highest close in nearly 18 months, amid some signs of stabilization in the payments universe.

  • Warner Music Group Corp is returning to public markets after nine years of being private and is expected to raise up to $1.82 billion by selling 70 million shares priced at $23 to $26 each, while restarting the stalled IPO market.

  • Union Pacific Corp . (NYS:UNP)  shares rose 0.9%, snapping a three-day losing streak, after the railroad operator provided an optimistic volume outlook at an industry conference

  • Pfizer Inc . (NYS:PFE)  said Tuesday it is planning to invest up to $500 million in biotech companies to support the sector’s most promising clinical development programs. “There has never been a more important moment to pursue new collaborations in our industry,” said John Young, Pfizer’s chief business officer, as he unveiled the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. Shares gained 2%.

  • Cisco Systems In c. (NAS:CSCO) shares gained 1.3% after the company postponed its Cisco Live 2020 online conference scheduled for this week due to the continuing nationwide protests. The conference had already been canceled as a live event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Seagate Technology PLC (NAS:STX)  said Tuesday it is planning to cut 500 jobs across 12 countries as part of a cost-containment plan. Shares closed 1.1% higher.

  • Shares of Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc . (NYS:DKS)  rose 3.7% after the retailer reported a wider-than expected loss in the first quarter, leaving the stock down 23.6% year-to-date.

  • Zoom Video Communications Inc. (NAS:ZM)  shares rose 1.9%, ahead of quarterly results set for release Tuesday after the close of trade. The videoconference company has benefited from global stay-at-home orders.

  • Amazon.com, Inc . (NAS:AMZN)  shares gained 0.1%, a day after borrowing $10 billion in the corporate bond market for the first time since 2018.

  • Facebook Inc . (NAS:FB)  shares tacked on 0.4%, after dozens of workers staged a “virtual walkout” on Monday to protest a decision by the company’s top leadership to leave inflammatory posts by President Donald Trump unchallenged.

  • Shares of gun makers and ammunition suppliers soared Tuesday amid the violence in U.S. cities, with Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc . (NYS:RGR) gaining 4.4%, Smith & Wesson Brands Inc . (NAS:SWBI)  up 10.1% and Vista Outdoor Inc . (NYS:VSTO)  advancing 7.5%.

How did other markets trade?

Oil prices rose to end at a three-month high Tuesday on the hope that major producers will extend production cuts. West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery gained $1.37 or 3.9%, to close at $36.81 a barrel.

In precious metals, August gold fell $16.30, or 0.9%, to settle at $1,734 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, ending its second day in a row lower.

In global equities, the Stoxx Europe 600 index (STOXX:XX:SXXP) booked a 1.6% gain, while the FTSE 100 index (FTSE:UK:UKX) closed 0.9% higher.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei (NIKKEI:JP:NIK) rose 1.2%, the China CSI 300 added 0.3% (CHINA:XX:000300)  and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HONG:HK:HSI) added 1.1%.

The 10-year Treasury note yield (XTUP:BX:TMUBMUSD10Y)  rose 1.7 basis points to 0.679%. Bond prices move in the opposite direction of yields.

The greenback lost ground against its major rivals, with the ICE U.S. Dollar index (IFUS:DXY) down about 0.1%.

<STRONG>Mark DeCambre contributed reporting</STRONG>

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