By Joy Wiltermuth, and Sunny Oh
U.S. stock-market benchmarks closed higher on the eve of Election Day, despite selling in technology shares, as markets continued to monitor rising COVID-19 cases and the potential for a return to March-style lockdowns in the U.S.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.66% rose 423.45 points, or 1.6%, to finish at 26,925.05. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.74% gained 1.2%, up 40.28 points, closing at 3,310.24. The Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.89% advanced 46.02 points, or 0.4%, ending at 10,957.61, after flipping between positive and negative.
The small-cap Russell 2000 /zigman2/quotes/210598147/delayed RUT +1.14% outperformed, adding 2%, or 30.11 points, to close at 1,568.59.
Stocks ended lower Friday, capping a losing week and month for major indexes. The Dow fell 4.6% last week, leaving the blue-chip gauge with a monthly loss of 6.5%. The S&P 500 saw a 5.6% weekly loss, leaving it down 2.8% for the month; the Nasdaq Composite suffered a 5.5% weekly fall, leaving it down 2.3% in October.
Last week’s declines for the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were the largest since March.
Equities closed higher Monday, a day before the U.S. election, even as major stock indexes saw selling in the technology sector.
Twitter Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -0.15% shares fell 4.6%, while Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.60% ended 0.1% lower and Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -0.42% slumped 1%, keeping the S&P 500’s daily gains in check.
“From a trader’s standpoint, as we go further into a potential lockdown state as COVID cases rates come back, tech again is front and center,” said Anthony Denier, chief executive officer of Webull, a trading platform popular with retail investors.
He pointed to Wall Street calls on Monday for investors to reduce technology exposure “because of crazy valuations” during the pandemic, as a pressure, but also said technology companies remain a favorite among retail traders.
“Stimulus, it’s going to happen,” Denier said, pointing to expectations that additional pandemic relief will eventually flow from Congress, regardless of who occupies the White House.
But Cameron Brandt, director of research at EPFR, said funds already flowing into industrials and consumer-goods sectors could point to other “material comforts,” beyond iPhones, laptops or streaming services, as benefiting from any additional pandemic aid from Congress or a return to March-style lockdowns in the U.S.
“The message the fund flows seem to be sending is that the winners in the second wave may be driven by deferred consumption,” he said.
Still, worries of a drawn-out ballot count and an unclear election outcome this week remained the biggest risk to markets, analysts said.
A final Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll published Sunday showed Democratic challenger Joe Biden holding a 10-percentage-point lead — 52% to 42% — over President Donald Trump. Biden’s lead was essentially unchanged from an 11-point lead seen in mid-October, but the survey did portray a tightening race in battleground states that could determine the outcome in the electoral college.
“There is so much uncertainty,” said Jason Ader, chief executive at SpringOwl Asset Management, in an interview. “The pollsters were wrong last time. Nobody knows what to believe.”