Nasdaq, S&P 500 Finish at Records

The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 climbed to records amid sharp swings in technology stocks and a big week for corporate earnings.

The Nasdaq rose 92.93 points, or 0.7%, to 13635.99 after a choppy day of trading. The tech-heavy index jumped as much as 1.4% in the morning, then turned negative and tumbled to a 1.3% loss before rebounding. There was no clear catalyst behind the moves.

The S&P 500 gained 13.89 points, or 0.4%, to 3855.36, also a record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 36.98, or 0.1%, to 30960.00.

A raft of corporate earnings reports in the coming days are expected to show which companies are thriving and which are struggling amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than one-fifth of the S&P 500 index and one-third of Dow components are scheduled to release earnings this week. Starbucks, Verizon and Microsoft are slated for Tuesday. Other major tech firms are reporting later in the week, including Apple, Tesla and Facebook on Wednesday.

“The way that management will communicate their outlook will be key for markets,” said Sophie Chardon, a cross-asset strategist at Lombard Odier. “Investors will have to weigh the possibility of vaccinations with the reality of new lockdowns” and the impact on each company.

Concerns about Covid-19 vaccine supplies have also sent jitters through the markets. Pharmaceutical giant Merck scrapped its plans to develop a Covid-19 vaccine after trials yielded disappointing results, pulling a major player out of the coronavirus vaccine race. Merck’s announcement came after AstraZeneca warned on Friday that its vaccine deliveries to the European Union would lag projections.

“The vaccine rollout is not as speedy or smooth as we had hoped in November,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.

Stumbles in the vaccination drive and the spread of new coronavirus variants have helped fuel recent gains in tech stocks. The biggest tech companies are seen as benefactors from stay-at-home orders, as firms and households increase their use of digital technology when operating remotely.

“You’re getting rotation out of the more cyclical stocks. These big tech stocks are perceived as a bit of a haven trade,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Tech shares also have been a favorite of individual investors who have poured into the U.S. stock market over the past year, fueling a broad rally and driving wild moves in some stocks.

One of them, GameStop, more than doubled in value during Monday’s session but later pared gains to close with an increase of $11.78, or 18%, to $76.79. The videogame retailer has been at the center of a fight between bullish day traders communicating on the internet forum Reddit, and short sellers, who bet heavily against the stock.

Some other stocks that have captured the attention of small investors also made big moves, such as movie-theater chain AMC Entertainment, whose shares jumped 91 cents, or 26%, to $4.42.

“The newly minted traders are using message boards and causing just really nutty stuff to happen,” Ms. Sonders said.

Investors also are monitoring negotiations over President Joe Biden’s plan for additional fiscal stimulus to combat fallout from the pandemic. His proposal for a $1.9 trillion spending package is likely to be a major topic of discussion among U.S. lawmakers this week.

Seven of the S&P 500’s 11 sectors rose Monday, with defensive sectors including utilities and consumer staples posting the biggest gains.

Technology and social-media stocks were volatile. Apple climbed $3.85, or 2.8%, to $142.92. Shares of data-analytics firm Palantir Technologies advanced $3.65, or 11%, to close at $36.23 ahead of a high-profile demo of its software planned for Tuesday. Palantir stock had surged as much as 21% earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, Twitter fell 22 cents, or 0.5%, to $47.84, and online marketplace Etsy sank $4.78, or 2.2%, to $208.81, with both stocks retreating from morning gains.

Energy stocks and financials were among Monday’s underperformers. Chevron shares fell 83 cents, or 0.9%, to $90.90, while Goldman Sachs dropped $6.35, or 2.2%, to $283.04, weighing on the Dow.

In corporate news, shares of Kimberly Clark rose $4.30, or 3.3%, to $136.51 after the maker of Kleenex and Huggies said it expects sales to rise in 2021, raised its quarterly dividend and unveiled a $5 billion share-buyback program.

Real-estate firm Tishman Speyer’s special-purpose acquisition company TS Innovation Acquisitions soared $4.64, or 45%, to $15 after it said it would merge with Latch, a smart-lock maker, to take the company public.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.8%, which analysts attributed to reports that the U.K. and France were heading toward tighter lockdown measures.

In Asia, most major stock benchmarks rose. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.5% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 2.4%, buoyed by the rally in tech shares.

South Korea’s Kospi Index advanced 2.2%. The index’s heavyweight Samsung Electronics rose 3% and chip maker SK Hynix rallied over 5%. Both are slated to report earnings this week.

China’s most valuable internet company, Tencent Holdings, jumped nearly 11% to a record in Hong Kong trading. Tencent portfolio company Kuaishou Technology, a TikTok-like video-recording app, announced a coming initial public offering that may value it at about $60 billion.

In bond markets, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond fell to 1.038%, from 1.090% Friday.

More than one-third of Dow Jones Industrial Average components are set to post earnings this week.

Photo: Courtney Crow/NYSE/Associated Press

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at [email protected] and Alexander Osipovich at [email protected]

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