Wall Street hits record highs in rally sparked by tech and health stocks
US stocks rose on Monday, with the S&P 500 and the Dow hitting record highs with growth sectors such as technology in favour again as investors appeared to regain confidence in the economy after upbeat comments from Federal Reserve officials.
Nasdaq’s biotechnology index rose 2.5 per cent in its biggest one-day gain since February while the S&P’s health care index had a record-high close.
Amazon.com’s Friday announcement that it would buy Whole Foods and an upbeat tone from Federal Reserve speakers seemed to help reassure investors after the US central bank’s rate hike last week, according to J Bryant Evans, portfolio manager at Cozad Asset Management, in Champaign, Illinois.
“It looks like a bet that interest rates, such as the 10-year yield, are bottoming out,” said Evans. “It’s a resumption of this idea that the economy is in decent shape.”
He added that a “push in M&A tends to propel the market” and that the Amazon/Whole foods US$13.7 billion deal was a “tangible sign the mergers and acquisition environment is pretty good right now.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 144.71 points, or 0.68 per cent, to end at 21,528.99, the S&P 500 gained 20.31 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 2,453.46 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 87.26 points, or 1.42 per cent, to 6,239.01.
The S&P’s financial sector was also one of the benchmark’s strongest gainers with a 0.98 per cent rise after New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley said US inflation was a bit low but should rise alongside wages as the labour market continues to improve, allowing the Fed to continue gradually tightening monetary policy.
The Fed commentary last week had surprised investors who expected more caution after some weak US economic data.
“My sense is investors must be looking at this as a pro-growth belief that perhaps Dudley sees underlying strength in the economy that the data doesn’t show right now. The Fed’s base case is that this is just kind of a soft patch and we will continue to cycle higher,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
The S&P technology sector finished up 1.7 per cent after its second straight weekly decline, which was triggered by fears of stretched valuations. Tech stocks have led the S&P 500’s 9.6 per cent rally this year.
“Investors were temporarily chased from the space but many companies in the sector offer growth which is difficult to find in the market as a whole,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.
Apple rose 2.9 per cent to $146.34, providing the biggest boost to the S&P followed by JPMorgan Chase, which rose 2.2 per cent to $88.07. The S&P 500 bank subsector rose 1.3 per cent.
The two biggest boosts for the biotechnology index were Biogen Inc and Clovis Oncology.
Biogen ended up 3.5 per cent to $260.54, after it was upgraded to “neutral” from “sell” at UBS.
Shares of Clovis Oncology soared 46.5 per cent to US$87.88 after late-stage data on its ovarian cancer drug.