S&P 500 closes wobbly week at new record high

Buildings line Wall Street in New York.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.5% to a record high for the second day in a row.
(Associated Press )
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Technology companies led a Friday afternoon rally on Wall Street that capped a week of wobbly trading with the major stock indexes hitting all-time highs.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.5% after spending most of the day wavering between small gains and losses. The gain nudged the benchmark index to a record high for the second day in a row. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite and the Dow Jones industrial average also set new highs.

More companies reported solid earnings, including manufacturer Mohawk Industries and genetic testing company Illumina. Bond yields rose, giving banks a boost. Bumble shares continued to climb after the company made a big splash in its stock market debut the day before.


Optimism that Washington will come through on trillions in economic stimulus and encouraging company earnings reports have helped stocks grind higher this month, along with hopes that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will set the stage for stronger growth in the second half of this year.

The S&P 500 rose 18.45 points to 3,934.83, while the Dow gained 27.70 points, or 0.1% to 31,458.40. The Nasdaq added 69.70 points, or 0.5%, to 14,095.47.

Traders also bid up shares in smaller companies. The Russell 2000 index rose 4.04 points, or 0.2%, to 2,289.36.

Despite a week of mostly minor gains and losses for the broader market, the S&P 500 notched its second straight weekly gain.

Investors are hoping for a new round of U.S. government aid as the economic recovery falters. The latest U.S. government report on jobless claims reaffirmed that employment remains a weak spot, even as vaccine distribution ramps up in the hopes of eventually ending the pandemic. The University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment came in below expectations as well, a sign that consumers are reluctant to spend.

Investors do not expect the market to move substantially higher in the near term until there’s more clarity on the stimulus package and the direction of the economy. Democrats have decided to use a legislative process that does not require Republican support to pass the $1.9-trillion package.


Most companies have now reported their latest round of earnings and the results have been surprisingly good. Roughly 75% of companies in the S&P 500 have released results, showing overall growth of 2.8%, according to FactSet. That’s a sharp reversal from the 13% contraction analysts had forecast in late September.

Mohawk Industries shares climbed 6% after the company posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings. Genetic analytics company Illumina jumped 11.9% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 following its encouraging earnings report.

Bumble shares rose a further 7.3%, extending big first-day gains Thursday on the company’s initial public offering.

Banks made some of the strongest gains as bond yields rose, enabling them to charge more lucrative interest on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.20% from 1.16% late Thursday. Wells Fargo gained 2.5%.

Most Asian markets were closed to mark the Lunar New Year. European markets ended the day higher.

U.S. stock and bond markets are closed Monday for Washington’s Birthday.