Stocks Rise with Techs Leading the Way…..
U.S. equities were higher, led by the Information Technology sector, which has bounced back from recent pressure amid the upward moves in Treasury yields and the U.S. dollar lately. Optimism of a robust economic recovery in the second half of the year persisted in the wake of further progress on COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and favorable news on the therapy front, while President Joe Biden signed the new $1.9 trillion fiscal relief package. However, Financials lagged as Treasuries were mostly lower, lifting longer-term yields, while the U.S. dollar continued to show signs of rolling over from multi-month highs. Gold was modestly lower in lackluster trading and crude oil prices gained solid ground. News on the economic front was focused on the jobs picture, with jobless claims coming in better than expected and job openings unexpectedly increasing. In equity news, Oracle saw pressure as the Street scrutinized its earnings report and Dow member Boeing rose on a Reuters report that it is nearing a multi-billion dollar jet deal with Southwest Airlines. On the COVID-19 front, VIR Biotechnology surged after the company, along with GlaxoSmithKline, said it will seek Emergency Use Authorization for their antibody therapy following upbeat trial results. Europe finished mostly higher following the European Central Bank’s decision to accelerate bond purchases to prevent tightening financial conditions, while markets in Asia also gained ground.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 189 points (0.6%) to 32,486, the S&P 500 Index gained 40 points (1.0%) to 3,939, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 330 points (2.5%) to 13,399. In heavy volume, 1.1 billion shares were traded on the NYSE and 5.9 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil rose $1.58 to $66.02 per barrel. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price nudged $3.11 lower to $1,723.60 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—lost 0.5% to 91.37.
The equity markets were higher as the recently hampered Information Technology sector rebounded noticeably after dragging the Nasdaq briefly into correction territory. The moves in the Tech sector have come amid optimism of robust activity as the economy reopens, along with uneasiness regarding growth stock valuations amid the spike in bond yields, that have fostered a rotation into cyclically-natured issues, notably Financials and Energy.
Weekly initial jobless claims came in at a level of 712,000 for the week ended March 6, south of the Bloomberg estimate of 725,000, and compared to the prior week’s upwardly revised 754,000 level. The four-week moving average fell by 34,000 to 759,000, and continuing claims for the week ended February 27 dropped by 193,000 to 4,144,000, below estimates of 4,200,000. The four-week moving average of continuing claims declined by 103,500 to 4,355,000.
In other employment news, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), a measure of unmet demand for labor, showed 6.92 million jobs were available to be filled in January. This compares to forecasts calling for a dip to 6.70 million jobs from December’s upwardly revised 6.75 million figure. The report showed the hiring rate dipped to 3.7% from December’s 3.8% pace, while the separations rate declined to 3.7% from the prior month’s 3.9% pace.
Treasuries were mostly lower, as the rate on the 2-year note dipped 1 basis point to 0.14%, while the yield on the 10-year note is gained 1 basis point to 1.52% and the 30-year bond rate rose 4 bps to 2.28%.
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