Stocks climb on Wall Street, notching more record highs

Buildings line Wall Street in New York.
Despite a choppy week of trading, the major indexes are on pace for weekly gains.
(Associated Press)

A broad rally on Wall Street pushed stocks higher Thursday, nudging the Standard & Poor’s 500 and Nasdaq composite indexes to record highs.

The gains reversed the market’s modest losses from a day earlier. Despite a choppy week of trading, the major indexes are on pace for weekly gains.

The S&P 500 rose 0.6%, eclipsing its previous all-time high set Tuesday. Stocks of technology, communications, retail and other consumer-facing companies helped lift the market. Banks made solid gains as long-term bond yields rose, which lenders rely on to charge higher interest rates on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.21% from 1.18% late Wednesday. Only healthcare and materials stocks fell.

Encouraging jobs data and a batch of strong corporate earnings reports helped put investors in a buying mood. Traders were also looking ahead to the government’s latest monthly national jobs report Friday morning, which should provide insight into how the labor market is faring amid a surge in cases of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“You do have a little bit of trepidation and concern around how the COVID flareups are going to impact things,” said Andrew Mies, chief investment officer at investment advisory firm 6 Meridien. “I don’t think that anybody has a great idea of what the magnitude of this could look like if we go out two or three weeks.”

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The S&P 500 rose 26.44 points to 4,429.10. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 271.58 points, or 0.8%, to close at 35,064.25. The Nasdaq climbed 114.58 points, or 0.8%, to 14,895.12.

Smaller-company stocks outpaced the broader market, a sign that investors are feeling more confident about economic growth. The Russell 2000 rose 39.69 points, or 1.8%, to 2,236.01.

Wall Street got another glimpse of the recovering jobs market after the Labor Department reported that unemployment claims — a proxy for layoffs — dropped last week by 14,000. The generally encouraging report follows a weak report from payroll processor ADP on Wednesday showing that the private sector added jobs at a much slower pace than expected in July.

The labor market has lagged other areas of the economy during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Investors will get a more comprehensive picture Friday when the Labor Department releases its July jobs report.

Investors also weighed another batch of earnings reports. Underwear maker Hanesbrands jumped 6.3% after reporting solid second-quarter financial results. Booking Holdings rose 5.9% after it reported better-than-expected revenue.

Several companies that benefited from the shift in consumer habits during the height of the pandemic slipped after releasing disappointing results or forecasts. Online crafts marketplace Etsy fell 9.7% after giving investors a weak sales forecast as more people return to shopping in person. Video-streaming service Roku shed 4% after active accounts and streaming hours fell short of analysts’ forecasts.

Weber, the pioneering grill maker, jumped 17.9% in its stock market debut.