NEW YORK (AFP) – The S&P 500 finished with another record on Wednesday (June 30), concluding a winning quarter as investors weigh optimism over the reopening economy against worries over the latest Covid-19 trends.
The broad-based index climbed 0.1 per cent to 4,297.50, a fifth straight record close that lifted its overall gain for the quarter to more than 8 per cent. And it is up more than 14 per cent for the first half of 2021.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 0.6 per cent to end at 34,502.51, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index retreated from Tuesday’s record, falling 0.2 per cent to 14,503.95.
The latest records have come on the heels of mostly solid economic data in recent weeks that show how widespread availability of coronavirus vaccines has transformed the global outlook compared with a year ago.
Private US firms added 692,000 jobs in June, according to payroll services firm ADP. The figures were a big drop from May, but well above economists’ expectations and bode well for the key government employment report Friday.
Other recent reports have shown strong consumer confidence and rising home prices, while corporate earnings have also won cheers, with large banks saying consumers are keeping up with their credit card bills and companies like Nike, General Motors and Target seeing strong sales.
“The macro outlook continues to improve,” said Paul Gruenwald, global chief economist at S&P Global Ratings, which raised its 2021 forecast.
But S&P noted that “risks are shifting from those that are pandemic related to those that are rebound and exit related,” especially inflation.
Key questions for stocks the rest of the year center on the ability of the Federal Reserve and other central banks to manage a transition away from ultra-accommodative monetary policy.
Questions about the virus remain central, not only concerning the state of worldwide vaccination campaigns, but also the emergence of new strands such as the Delta variant.