Stock indexes are moving mostly higher in choppy trading on Wall Street Monday afternoon as the market cools off after a three-week winning streak.
The S&P 500 was up 0.4% after being down 0.3% in the early going. Gains in the technology sector and companies that rely on consumer spending outweighed losses among industrial stocks, household goods makers and elsewhere in the market. Noble Energy climbed 5.6% after the company agreed to be acquired by Chevron for $5 billion.
Treasury yields were also mixed, reflecting caution among investors. European markets were mostly higher and Asian markets ended mixed.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 45 points, or 0.2%, to 26,626. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 1.7%. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks gave up 0.7%. In Europe, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5%, while Germany’s DAX added 1%. Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 0.5%.
The wobbly start for U.S. stocks comes as traders look ahead to a busy week of earnings reports from major U.S. companies, including IBM, Coca-Cola and Microsoft.
Expectations are low for companies’ performance in the April-June quarter due to the pandemic, given the economic fallout from the broad business shutdowns and the rapid increase in unemployment as millions of Americans were laid off or furloughed. But investors want to hear what company CEOs have to say about how they expect their businesses to fare in the second half of this year and in 2021.
Wall Street is coming off its third straight weekly gain following improvements in hiring, retail sales and other parts of the economy, along with rising hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine. Underlying it all is massive aid for the economy and the promise of nearly zero interest rates from the Federal Reserve. The overall S&P 500 index has rallied back to within 4.5% of its record set in February and is back to where it was in early June.
Still, worries remain that the rise of coronavirus counts across much of the country will derail efforts to reopen businesses shut down due to the pandemic.
“Until we have more clarity around all these different issues, it wouldn’t surprise us if the market ended the year right where we are today,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
Investors have an eye on Washington as Congress returns this week to begin work with the White House on another trillion-dollar economic relief package against the backdrop a renewed surge in the outbreak. The U.S. has now registered more coronavirus infections and a higher death count of 140,500 than any other country.
The Fed’s efforts to support markets and expectations that Washington will deliver more financial aid to help Americans weather the economic downturn has been key in keeping markets mostly pushing higher since stocks plunged in March.
“If markets are allowed to trade in a vacuum without policy, you could see much more volatility,” Samana said.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 0.62% from 0.63% late Friday.
In the commodities markets, the price of benchmark U.S oil reversed an early slide, adding 0.5% to $40.79. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 0.3% to $43.27 a barrel.