S&P 500 hits another record; energy stocks, banks gain

Buildings line Wall Street in New York.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose rose 0.5%, marking its sixth straight gain and fourth consecutive record high.
(Associated Press)

Stocks finished broadly higher on Wall Street on Thursday, adding to the gains that helped the market close out its best first half of a year since the dot-com bubble.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.5%, marking its sixth straight gain and fourth consecutive record high. The price of U.S. crude oil rose more than 2%, giving a boost to energy companies. Bond yields edged higher and helped lift bank stocks. Healthcare and communication companies also helped lift the market. The consumer staples sector was the only laggard, weighed down by a pullback in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Investors have been encouraged by data that show the economy continues its recovery from the pandemic. The latest weekly unemployment report showed the lowest number of claims for jobless aid since COVID-19 walloped the economy. The highly anticipated jobs report for June comes out Friday.

The S&P 500 rose 22.44 points to 4,319.94. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 131.02 points, or 0.4%, closing at 34,633.53. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite added 18.42 points, or 0.1%, to end at 14,522.38.

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Small-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 18.81 points, or 0.8%, to 2,329.34.

The benchmark S&P 500 ended the first half of 2021 up 14.5%, its best six-month period since 1998, as investors embraced the post-pandemic economic recovery and set aside worries about inflation.

Employment has been one of the shakier areas of the economic recovery and has lagged behind other measures such as consumer confidence and retail sales. Economists and analysts have said that a much fuller and more stable recovery is dependent on more people going back to work.

On Friday investors will get the June jobs report. Economists surveyed by FactSet estimate that the U.S. economy created 675,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 5.7%.

The June jobs report is also being closely watched as a potential gauge for when the Federal Reserve might start easing its bond purchases and other measures that have kept interest rates low. Inflation fears have somewhat subsided, but investors are still trying to figure out whether rising inflation will be temporary or more long-lasting.

As part of the jobs report, investors will look to see if wages kept rising, which could add to inflation.

Airlines and other travel-related companies that have been battered by the pandemic gained ground after the latest upbeat unemployment data. Delta Air Lines rose 2.2% and Marriott gained 2%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.46% from 1.44% on Wednesday.

Oil prices jumped as OPEC met. The group of oil-producing countries is considering whether to increase production as the global economy recovers from the pandemic. Oil prices along with other raw materials have risen steadily this year as demand has increased. Oil gained 2.4% on Thursday and is up 55% so far this year.

Higher oil prices translated into higher energy company stock prices. Occidental Petroleum rose 5.1%, ConocoPhillips gained 3.3% and Marathon Oil added 4%. The energy sector of the S&P 500 was the biggest winner in the first half of the year with a gain of more than 40%.

Doughnut chain Krispy Kreme climbed 23.5% in its debut on the Nasdaq. The Charlotte, N.C., company, known for its glazed doughnuts, priced its initial public offering of 29.4 million shares at $17 apiece, which was well below the $21 to $24 it was seeking. Its shares closed at $21. This marks Krispy Kreme’s second stint as a public company.