Advertisement

More blowout profits from tech companies push S&P 500 higher

Tech stocks accounted for most of the gains, outweighing losses in healthcare, utilities, energy and other sectors.
Technology stocks accounted for the lion’s share of the gains, outweighing losses in healthcare, utilities, energy and other sectors.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

More blowout profit reports from big tech companies pushed the Standard & Poor’s 500 to another all-time high Wednesday.

The benchmark index rose 1%, even though most of the stocks within it closed lower. Technology stocks accounted for the lion’s share of the gains, outweighing losses in healthcare, utilities, energy and other sectors.

The S&P 500 has been notching record highs this month, adding to its remarkable turnaround this year from a nearly 34% skid this spring as the pandemic ravaged the economy. Although the market’s movements have remained almost relentlessly upward in recent weeks, powered largely by big technology stocks, its momentum has slowed. Recent data reports have shown a mixed picture on the economy, with activity largely slowing after its initial rebound from its plummet into recession.

Still, the latest economic data provided more reason for investor optimism. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for transportation equipment, computers and other long-lasting goods jumped more in July from June than economists expected.

Advertisement

The S&P 500 gained 35.11 points to 3,478.73. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 83.48 points, or 0.3%, to 28,331.92. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 198.59 points, or 1.7%, to 11,665.06, its third-straight record high. Smaller companies struggled. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks fell 11.02 points, or 0.7%, to 1,560.19.

On Thursday, the market will pay close attention as the Federal Reserve’s chairman gives a highly anticipated speech on monetary policy. Jerome H. Powell will be speaking as part of the Fed’s annual economic symposium, which is usually held in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where past Fed officials have made big market-moving announcements.

Many investors expect Powell to talk about inflation, as well as the importance of Congress delivering more aid for the economy after much of its last round of stimulus expired.

The Fed has been one of the primary reasons for the stock market’s return to a record, after it pledged to keep short-term interest rates at their record low and to continue to buy bonds to support the economy.

Advertisement

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.69% from 0.68% late Tuesday. It’s been climbing in recent weeks, up from 0.53% at the end of July, and it tends to move with investors’ expectations for the economy and inflation.

If yields move high enough, it could rattle the stock market because higher rates can draw investors back into bonds and away from stocks. The recent ultra-low rates have helped technology and other high-growth stocks in particular. But analysts say the 10-year Treasury yield would need to get closer to 1% to drive real concerns.

Salesforce.com, the latest tech stock to be minted a blue chip, surged 26%, making it the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, after giving a profit report for its latest quarter that Wall Street analysts called “stupendous.” Salesforce.com will join the Dow when trading begins Monday, replacing Exxon Mobil in the measure of 30 blue-chip stocks.

Tech stocks in the S&P 500 accounted for more than 57% of the S&P 500’s overall gain.

Advertisement

Cruise line operators were among the biggest decliners Wednesday. Norwegian Cruise Line fell 6.1%, while Carnival dropped 3.8%.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for October delivery rose 4 cents to $43.39 a barrel Wednesday. Brent crude oil for October delivery fell 22 cents to $45.64 a barrel. Oil has been ticking higher as Hurricane Laura barrels toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, potentially putting energy production at risk.


Advertisement