By Joy WiltermuthandMark DeCambre
The Dow Jones Industrial Average booked a modest loss Monday, after briefly surpassing its all-time closing high, while the Nasdaq Composite and small-cap Russell 2000 index finished higher as investors awaited more data on the next leg of the economic recovery.
How did major indexes perform?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.61% shed 126.15 points, or 0.4%, to close at 34,630.24, after rising above its May 7 all-time closing high at 34,777.76 early in the session.
The S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.60% fell 3.37 points to end at 4,226.52, down 0.1%, but not far off its record close at 4,232.60, also put in on May 7.
The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.24% rose 67.23 points, or 0.5%, to finish at 13,881.72.
The Russell 2000 /zigman2/quotes/210598147/delayed RUT -0.15% index of small-cap stocks rose 1.4% to end at 2,319.18.
Losses on the S&P 500 were led by a 1.2% decline in materials /zigman2/quotes/204467551/composite XLB +0.76% shares and a 0.6% fall in those for financials /zigman2/quotes/209660484/composite XLF +0.94% .
On Friday, stocks rose following a May jobs report that came in below expectations but showed a pickup in job creation from April. The Dow rose 0.7% for the week, while the S&P 500 gained 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.5%.
What drove the market?
Stock indexes ended mixed, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and small-cap Russell 2000 booking gains, as investors looked forward to the release of May inflation data on Thursday to help gauge pricing pressures building up during the most recent leg of the U.S. economic recovery.
“You’ve got a handful of stocks going berserk, but the rest of the market has been seeing a very slow grind higher,” said Sahak Manuelian, head of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, adding that the summer doldrums appear to be setting in after Friday’s rally.
Shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200235402/composite AMC -5.11% closed 14.8% higher Monday, but off the session’s best levels, while those of GameStop Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203755179/composite GME -4.75% rose 12.7%.
“In some areas, we are seeing the reflation trade stocks are giving back a little bit,” Manuelian told MarketWatch, while pointing to Monday’s pullback in shares in the materials and industrials sectors.
Investors have been grappling with concerns about the potential for out-of-control inflation, while also weighing the prospects of a major infrastructure plan that may further stimulate economic growth in the rebound from COVID.
“I think we are in a push-pull market,” said Joe Quinlan, head of CIO market strategy for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank in an interview with MarketWatch, adding that stocks indexes are consolidating near all-time highs, but that U.S. companies also are expected to deliver another strong round of earnings in the second-quarter.
“We are treading water, but nicely at these elevated levels,” he said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in an interview Sunday that it would be OK if President Joe Biden’s $4 trillion spending plans lift inflation and lead to higher rates .
“We’ve been fighting inflation that’s too low and interest rates that are too low now for a decade,” she told Bloomberg. “We want them to go back to” a normal environment, “and if this helps a little bit to alleviate things then that’s not a bad thing — that’s a good thing.”
Investors also have been focused on signs of a slower pace of recovery for the U.S. labor market, after May’s employment report fell short of some Wall Street estimates, even as employers across the economy report difficulties attracting workers to fill vacant spots.