Stock market news live updates: Dow, S&P 500 set records, tech and Bitcoin soar as Biden stimulus signing feeds risk rally

Stock market news live updates: Dow, S&P 500 set records, tech and Bitcoin soar as Biden stimulus signing feeds risk rally

Stocks advanced on Thursday and the Dow and S&P 500 each set record highs after President Joe Biden signed into law another expansive coronavirus relief package. Technology shares rebounded, and Treasury yields steadied.

[Click here to read what’s moving markets heading into Friday, March 12]

The S&P 500 added more than 1% to reach both a record intraday and closing high. The Nasdaq outperformed as tech stocks resurged, and the index climbed 2.5%. The risk rally extended to Bitcoin, which rallied to more than $57,000 and closed in on the record high the token achieved late last month. The Dow added 0.6%, or 188 points, and also reached a closing high.

Over the past several weeks, the technology-heavy Nasdaq and Dow have diverged in performance as traders increasingly piled into value and cyclical shares viewed as most closely tied to a strong economic recovery. The cyclical energy and financials sectors have also been leading gains in the S&P 500, extending a run of outperformance against tech and growth shares. Treasury yields steadied across the curve, pulling back following a milder than expected print on consumer price inflation earlier this week.

The market moves on Thursday came after Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which includes provisions like $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans, $300 per week in augmented unemployment benefits through early September, and $350 billion in state, local and tribal government aid. The bill cleared both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in the past week by party-line votes.

The passage of the massive bill — exceeded in dollar amount only by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed at the start of the pandemic last year — will reverberate quickly through the economy, many pundits have said. The bill also comes one year following the World Health Organization’s formal designation of the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, which took place March 11, 2020.

“The most immediate impact in the macroeconomic data will be in retail sales numbers, where some of the $410 billion in direct payments will appear in both the March and — especially — April reports,” Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics wrote in a note Wednesday. “We also expect to see a rapid response — though not quite as quick as in the retail sales data — from state and local governments, which will use much of their $350 billion in direct support from the federal government, alongside $130 billion for schools, to re-hire some of the 1.3 million people let go from the sector since the pandemic started.”

The $1,400 stimulus checks will likely also have a direct impact on equity markets. Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs equity strategists raised their forecast for household equity demand this year to $350 billion from $100 billion, reflecting “faster economic growth and higher interest rates than we had assumed previously, additional stimulus payments to individuals, and increased retail activity in early 2021,” according to the firm.

Others echoed similar sentiments.

“Given that the most recent reading of the personal savings rate is a healthy 20.5%, our expectation is that a portion of the stimulus money makes its way into equities,” Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer for Cornerstone Wealth, said in an email on Wednesday. “The last time around, flows went into more speculative areas of the market, including SPAC’s, Reddit stocks, and high-growth momentum, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see something similar.”

4:01 p.m. ET: S&P 500, Dow end at records, Nasdaq jumps 2.5%

Here’s where the three major indexes closed out the regular session on Thursday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +40.46 points (+1.04%) to 3,939.27
  • Dow (^DJI): +188.57 points (+0.58%) to 32,485.59
  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +329.84 points (+2.52%) to 13,398.67

2:15 p.m. ET: President Biden signs $1.9 trillion stimulus package into law

President Joe Biden signed into law Congress’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which includes a host of measures aimed at providing relief to individuals, state and local governments and small businesses during the ongoing pandemic.

The bill’s signing came ahead of a March 14 deadline, after which unemployment benefits authorized under the last coronavirus relief package from December were set to expire.

1:28 p.m. ET: Recent market conditions ‘point to further equity upside’: UBS

Despite the recent volatility in equity markets with the Nasdaq sliding into a correction just earlier this week, upside remains for the stock market as a whole, according to at least one strategist.

“We believe the recent equity volatility is likely to continue as investors seek to balance increasing optimism over growth with worries about higher inflation,” UBS chief investment officer Mark Haefele wrote in a note Thursday. “But while we expect conditions to remain volatile, the most recent developments on three of the main market drivers — stimulus, pandemic news, and inflation data — point to further equity upside.”

Namely, Haefele said that the substantial $1.9 trillion stimulus package will likely produce upside risk to GDP growth forecasts, which he now sees growing at a 6.4% for the full year. Plus, the vaccine distribution appears to be chugging along at a quicker than expected clip, with President Joe Biden announcing the country was doubling its Johnson & Johnson vaccine order. And finally, Haefele pointed to the slower than expected growth in the core consumer price index for February, which suggests inflation remained benign at the start of the year and more tepid than many investors feared.

11:17 a.m. ET: Stocks extend gains, S&P 500 joins Dow in hitting record high

Here’s where markets were trading late Thursday morning:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +52.41 points (+1.34%) to 3,951.22
  • Dow (^DJI): +329.34 points (+1.02%) to 32,626.36
  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +303.22 points (+2.34%) to 13,374.73
  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.18 (+1.83%) to $65.62 a barrel
  • Gold (GC=F): +$0.40 (+0.02%) to $1,722.20 per ounce
  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +2 bps to yield 1.54%

10:51 a.m. ET: Job openings rise more than expected in January, reaching highest level in nearly one year

U.S. job openings increased to nearly seven million in January, rising to the highest level since February 2020 as job postings picked up following a pandemic-induced slump.

Job openings rose to 6.917 million at the start of 2021, according to the Labor Department’s monthly report, rising above the 6.752 million reported for December. Consensus economists were looking for job openings to come in at 6.7 million in January, according to Bloomberg consensus data.

Total separations, which count layoffs and voluntary departures, fell by nearly 300,000 to 5.3 million in January. The number of individuals who left their jobs voluntarily ticked down just slightly to 3.31 million.

9:40 a.m. ET: Bumble shares spike after company delivers rosy outlook in first earnings report as a public company

Shares of Bumble (BMBL) rose 7% shortly after the opening bell after the dating app company posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter sales and delivered an outlook that suggested the company’s growth would surge as in-person social activities returned this year.

Fourth-quarter revenue of $165.6 million topped expectations for $163.3 million, according to Bloomberg data, and paying users rose to 2.7 million. That grew from 2.0 million paid users in the same period last year. And for the full year 2020, revenue rose to $582.2 million, up from $488.9 million in 2019.

Bumble added that it sees first-quarter revenue coming in as high as $165 million, and adjusted EBITDA totaling as much as $42 million. For the full year, 2021, revenue will likely grow to between $716 million and $726 million, with adjusted EBITDA of as much as $178 million.

9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher, Nasdaq jumps after stimulus bill passes House, jobless claims come in better than expected

Here’s where markets were trading after the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +29.19 points (+0.75%) to 3,928.00
  • Dow (^DJI): +114.86 points (+0.36%) to 32,411.88
  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +204.84 points (+1.56%) to 13,272.70
  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.82 (+1.27%) to $65.26 a barrel
  • Gold (GC=F): +$4.30 (+0.25%) to $1,726.10 per ounce
  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.7 bps to yield 1.527%

8:35 a.m. ET: Jobless claims fall to a four-month low as labor market recovery picks up steam

Initial unemployment claims fell more than expected last week, reaching the lowest level since early November as the prospects of milder weather and more business reopenings helped alleviate some of the strain on the labor market.

New jobless claims during the week ended March 6 fell to 712,000, coming in below the 725,000 expected and upwardly revised 754,000 during the prior week.

Continuing claims, which track the total number of individuals still receiving regular state unemployment benefits, fell for an eighth straight week to 4.144 million and also came in better-than-expected.

However, outside of regular state benefits, the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits across all programs has still remained sharply elevated, however: Some 20 million Americans were still claiming benefits across all programs as of Feb. 20, the latest date for which data is available. That marked an increase over the prior week.

7:24 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures rise, Nasdaq futures outperform

Here’s where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,921.75, up 25.25 points or 0.65%
  • Dow futures (YM=F): 32,376.00, up 97 points or 0.3%
  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,958.00, up 208.75 points or 1.64%
  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.61 (+0.95%) to $65.05 a barrel
  • Gold (GC=F): +$9.30 (+0.54%) to $1,731.10 per ounce
  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.8 bps to yield 1.502%

6:03 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures open higher

Here were the main moves in markets as of 6:03 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,905.75, up 9.25 points or 0.24%
  • Dow futures (YM=F): 32,347.00, up 68 points or 0.21%
  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,785.5, up 36.25 points or 0.28%


Barbara Winsett

Is a co-founder of the Crypto Lead, working to guarantee the right to a free and open financial system. She is also an investor in early-stage startups with Slow Ventures.

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