US stocks rose again on Friday as the market rally stayed at record levels on strong profits from blue-chip companies and solid data signaling a setback in the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 164.68 points, or 0.5%, to 34,200.67. The 30-share benchmark crossed the 34,000 threshold for the first time in the previous session. The S&P 500 rose 0.4% to a new closing high of 4,185.47. The Nasdaq Composite was up 0.1% to 14,052.34.
Wall Street ended another week of earnings with its top three benchmarks up more than 1%. The S&P 500 and Dow saw their fourth consecutive positive week, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq posted three consecutive gains.
The last of the six largest US banks to report – Morgan Stanley – had a stronger-than-expected result, backed by strong trade and investment banking results. The bank’s shares were down 2.8%, reducing their earnings to around 14% year-to-date.
PNC Financial was up more than 2% after the bank top and bottom beating estimates for its first quarter report.
“The Dow’s push of 34,000 is a signal that investors’ appetites for future growth prospects are shifting to more value-driven names,” said Peter Essele, director of portfolio management at Commonwealth Financial Network. “Demand for industrial products and cyclical areas should continue as vaccines catch on and profits may turn out to be higher than originally expected.”
Investor sentiment was bolstered this week by a series of economic data pointing to a rebound in consumer spending, sentiment and the labor market.
The University of Michigan said Friday that the preliminary index of consumer sentiment rose from 84.9 in March to a year-long high of 86.5 in the first half of this month.
Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said Friday the US economy will recover but there is still no reason to tighten policy.
“I think the economy is ready to fall apart,” said CNBC’s Waller Steve Liesman during an interview with Squawk on the Street. “There is more to be done, but I think everyone is much more comfortable with having the virus under control and we are starting to see it in the form of economic activity.”
Thursday’s data showed retail sales rose 9.8% in March as additional stimulus fueled consumer spending, beating the Dow Jones estimate of 6.1%. In the week ending April 10, the Ministry of Labor reported 576,000 first-time applications for unemployment insurance, the lowest level since March 2020.
The strong performance of the S&P 500 in recent weeks has increased its growth since the beginning of the year to over 11%. Cyclical sectors were the biggest winners this year, with energy and finance leading the rally.
“Rising animal spirits, along with historic fiscal incentives and an improving public health picture, reinforce our expectation of further improvement in economic activity in the coming months,” Azhar Iqbal, Wells Fargo econometrician, said in a note.
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