Stocks rally, erase early loss ahead of big earnings week
U.S. stocks stormed back from sharp losses in the morning to notch gains Monday, the latest round of turbulence for Wall Street.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 24.34 points, or 0.6%, to 4,296.12 after erasing an early 1.7% loss. Stocks of internet-related companies helped lead the way, including Twitter, which jumped 5.7% after it agreed to sell itself to Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 238.06 points, or 0.7%, to 34,049.46 after being down as much as 488 points, and the Nasdaq composite rallied 165.56 points, or a market-leading 1.3%, to close at 13,004.85.
Stocks have been shaky recently, with the S&P 500 coming off a three-week losing streak amid worries about the quick jump in interest rates coming from the Federal Reserve as it tries to rein in high inflation. Strong profit reports for the first three months of the year from big U.S. companies had been offering support, but even that was looking less solid after some mixed reports and forecasts last week.
Now Wall Street is in the midst of one of the most important stretches of the earnings season. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and the parent company of Google are all on deck to report this week. And because they’re among the biggest companies by market value, their movements hold the most sway over the S&P 500.
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Earlier in the morning, U.S. stocks had been on track to follow global markets lower, particularly in China, over worries that strict lockdown measures there might crimp the world’s second-largest economy and potentially hurt global economic growth. Stocks in Shanghai slumped 5.1%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 3.7%.
China’s capital, Beijing, began mass testing of more than 3 million people Monday and restricted residents in one part of the city to their compounds, sparking worries of a wider lockdown similar to Shanghai’s. That city has been locked down for more than two weeks, and that has already prompted the International Monetary Fund to trim its growth forecast for China’s economy.
Worries are also high for the U.S. economy, which some investors believe is set to slow sharply or even fall into a recession because of the big interest rate increases the Fed is likely to push through.
Yields for U.S. government bonds fell Monday, a turnaround from this year’s sharp jump in yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which affects rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, dropped to 2.82% from 2.90% late Friday. It has recently been close to its highest level since 2018.
Lower yields tend to benefit high-growth stocks the most because investors become more willing to pay high prices when they’re not losing much in interest if they’d bought bonds instead. Gains for several Big Tech stocks were the strongest forces lifting the S&P 500 on Monday, including a 2.4% gain for Microsoft and a 2.9% rise for the Class A shares of Google’s parent, Alphabet.
Both are set to report their latest quarterly results Tuesday.
“Today is definitely a very small rebound, but we are early in earnings season and the big ones are coming [Tuesday] and later this week,” said Robert Cantwell, portfolio manager at Upholdings.
Besides their bottom-line profit numbers, investors are also looking for a better sense of how big companies in the technology, industrial and retail sectors are handling inflation and supply chain issues.
“The plane is circling the airport,” Cantwell said. “Volatility will be back, make no mistake.”
Inflation remains a key concern for investors. They are worried about whether the Fed will be able to raise rates enough to quell inflation but not so much as to cause a recession. The Fed’s chair has indicated the central bank may boost short-term interest rates by double the usual amount at upcoming meetings, starting next week. The Fed has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018.
Wall Street will also get some key economic data this week. The Conference Board will release its measure of consumer confidence for April on Tuesday. The Commerce Department will release its first-quarter gross domestic product report Thursday.
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