Dow, S&P500 kick of May on strong footing, tech stocks lag

THE S&P 500 and the Dow indexes ended higher on Monday amid a largely upbeat earnings season, while the Nasdaq came under pressure from declines in some high-flying growth stocks as the rotation into cyclical and “economy reopening” stocks continued.

Economy-sensitive cyclical S&P 500 sectors such as consumer staples, energy, and materials outperformed sectors housing growth stocks, including technology and communication services,.

The largest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 was oil field services firm Baker Hughes, which rose 8%. Apparel retailers also finished strong, with Gap Inc shares jumping 7.1% and Foot Locker Inc up 4.1%.

“All of those names that are having outsized gain today are as a result of economic reopening optimism, and people getting out of the house spending money on things,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7% to close at 34,113.23 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.27% to 4,192.66. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.48% to 13,895.12.

Volume on US exchanges was 10.29 billion shares compared with the 9.86 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

The Nasdaq index fell as megacap technology stocks, including Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc, Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp, traded lower despite largely upbeat results.

The stocks have struggled to maintain the upward trajectory coming into reporting season. Chipmakers also fell with the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index down by 1.2%.

With more than half of S&P 500 companies having reported so far, profits are now seen rising 46% in the first quarter compared with forecasts of 24% growth at the start of April, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. About 87% of the companies have come also reported earnings per share ahead of analysts’ estimates.

“This is now the fourth straight quarter of earnings just absolutely crushing estimates,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird. “I think there just continues to be an underestimation of how strong this rally and how strong the economy is rebounding.”

Strong earnings, improving economic data, fiscal stimulus and the Federal Reserve’s ultra accommodative stance have supported markets, pushing the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes to record levels last week.

US manufacturing activity grew at a slower pace in April, likely constrained by shortages of inputs amid pent-up demand due to rising vaccinations and massive fiscal stimulus.

The Labour Department’s non-farm payrolls data, slated to be released on Friday, is expected to show a rise in job additions in April. – May 3, 2021

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