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Modest gains nudge Nasdaq above 15,000 for the first time

A Wall Street sign is framed by U.S. flags outside the New York Stock Exchange.
The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.5% to 15,019.80 points, a record high.
(Associated Press)

Wall Street delivered more milestones Tuesday after a modest pickup in stocks nudged the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to an all-time high and lifted the Nasdaq composite above 15,000 for the first time.

The benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.2% after a relatively quiet day in the market. Banks and a mix of retailers, travel companies and restaurant chains accounted for much of the upward move. Those gains offset a slide in healthcare companies, household goods makers and technology stocks.

Investors bid up shares in home builders after the government reported that sales of new U.S. homes rose modestly last month. Small-company stocks outpaced the rest of the market. Treasury yields mostly edged higher. The price of crude oil had its second solid gain in a row, clawing back more of the ground it lost over the previous two weeks.

While investors have been monitoring the developments overseas in Afghanistan and with the coronavirus and its highly contagious Delta variant, the absence of any bad news Tuesday may have helped keep the market moving higher, said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.

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“In a bull market, in an absence of negative catalysts, you tend to get some upside movement,” Frederick said. “It’s slow and gradual, but it continues to trudge forward.”

The S&P 500 rose 6.70 points to 4,486.23. It was the index’s fourth straight gain and its first record high since early last week. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 30.55 points, or 0.1%, to close at 35,366.26. The Nasdaq climbed 77.15 points, or 0.5%, to 15,019.80. The tech-heavy index also finished at a record high Monday.

Small-company stocks outgained the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index rose 22.61 points, or 1%, to 2,230.91.

Bond yields rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.29% from 1.25% on Monday.

The market’s latest gains bolster its comeback after last week, when the S&P 500 posted its first weekly loss after two weeks of gains. Stocks rose Monday as investors welcomed the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine amid expectations that it may make vaccination adoption more widespread.

The Pfizer vaccine approval has given cities and companies the legal backing to start issuing mandates. On Monday, New York City and the Department of Defense announced vaccine requirements. Shares in Pfizer fell 3.1% on Tuesday. Moderna, another COVID-19 vaccine maker, dropped 4.1%.

Best Buy jumped 8.3% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after reporting results that were better than analysts expected and raising its full-year forecast.

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Travel companies also made gains. Las Vegas Sands rose 7.5%, and Wynn Resorts added 7%. Airlines and cruise line operators also rose. American Airlines picked up 3.8%, Delta Air Lines added 3.4%, Norwegian Cruise Line climbed 4.6% and Carnival rose 4.4%.

Halliburton, Occidental Petroleum and Valero Energy gained 3% or more as the price of U.S. crude oil rose 2.9%.

Investors will be looking to the Federal Reserve as the Kansas City Fed’s annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., starts this week. It will probably provide Wall Street with more insight into what the Fed may do about inflation. The concern among investors is that the Fed will reduce its bond-buying program later this year to combat inflation.


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