Wall Street takes a breather after recent winning streak; oil prices rise

MSCI’s gauge of global stocks and the Nasdaq extended their runs to fresh highs on Tuesday, with oil prices pushing their rally into a seventh straight session as strong earnings and economic recovery prospects buoyed investor sentiment.

However, the S&P 500 and Dow ended slightly lower, breaking their six-day streak of gains as investors rotated out of large-cap tech names into other sectors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.93 points or 0.03% to 31,375.83, the S&P 500 lost 4.36 points or 0.11% to 3,911.23 and the Nasdaq Composite added 20.06 points or 0.14%, to 14,007.70.

Bitcoin climbed to another all-time peak, extending gains in the wake of an endorsement from Tesla Inc.

On Wall Street, investors awaited further news on the proposed US$1.9 tril US stimulus plan, while Donald Trump’s historic impeachment trial on a charge of inciting last month’s deadly storming of the US Capitol began, making Trump the first former US president to be tried in the Senate.

Optimism over monetary and fiscal support from policymakers, robust corporate earnings and the prospect that coronavirus vaccines could hasten a return to normality in the US and other countries have bolstered risk sentiment.

Investors are hard-pressed to find significant negatives, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“You’re not seeing money coming out of the market and going into cash,” James said. “You’re seeing money coming out of one sector and being rotated into another sector to maintain an overall long bias.”

Against this backdrop, concerns remain over the pace of vaccination, its efficacy against new variants of the novel coronavirus and the damage being done to economies.

The Nasdaq hit an all-time high for the fifth consecutive session, while the small-cap Russell 2000 index also registered a record closing high.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.09% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.17%.

Oil prices rose for their seventh straight session as investors bet fuel demand would rise.

Brent settled up 53 cents or 0.9% to US$61.06/barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) for March was at US$58.36/barrel, up 39 cents or 0.7%. The session peaks for both benchmarks were the highest since January 2020.

The US dollar fell to two-week lows. The dollar index was last down 0.6% with the euro up 0.59% to US$1.2119.

Bitcoin soared to a record high, headed toward the us$50,000 milestone. It has surged more than 1,000% since March 2020 and analysts said forecasts of bitcoin hitting US$100,000 this year no longer seem far-fetched.

The gains follow disclosures from Tesla on Monday that it had invested around US$1.5 bil in the virtual currency and expects to accept it as payment for its cars in the future.

Benchmark US Treasury yields made up earlier declines as investors prepared for the US Treasury Department to sell new long-dated debt, but they held below 11-month highs reached on Monday.

Ten-year yields were little changed on the day at 1.164%, holding below the 1.200% level reached on Monday.

Spot gold added 0.1% to US$1,838.49 an ounce. – Feb 10, 2021

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