Stock Market Today: S&P 500, Nasdaq Continue to Carve Out New Highs

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Stocks built on Monday’s big gains, as investors continued to cheer the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) full approval of the COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by Pfizer (PFE, -3.1%) and BioNTech (BNTX, -3.6%).

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Sentiment was also lifted by quarterly earnings beats from electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY, +8.3%), Chinese e-commerce name JD.com (JD, +14.4%) and cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (PANW, +18.6%).

A higher-than-expected reading on new home sales provided some optimism on the economic front, with data from the Census Bureau showing that sales of new single-family homes increased 1% month-over-month in July to an annual rate of 708,000 units.

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At the close, the S&P 500 Index (+0.2% at 4,486) and Nasdaq Composite (+0.5% at 15,019) were sitting at new record highs, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1% at 35,366.

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 jumped 1% to 2,230.
  • Tuesday was a big day for meme stocks. GameStop (GME, +27.5%), AMC Entertainment (AMC, +20.3%) and BlackBerry (BB, +9.5%) – among several other names that made headlines earlier this year for enjoying massive gains on the back of short squeezes – bolted ahead on no significant news.
  • JD.com wasn’t the only Chinese tech-related name on the rise today. Alibaba (BABA, +6.6%), Tencent (TCEHY, +9.5%) and Pinduoduo (PDD, +22.3%) were among several such stocks to enjoy a much-needed relief rally after a prolonged slump. Many Chinese tech and communications equities have spent 2021 cooling off from 2020’s gains, and tighter Chinese governmental regulation in more recent months has further rattled shares. To wit, the KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (KWEB), which finished 11.0% higher Tuesday, remains down by more than 50% from its February highs.
  • U.S. crude futures jumped 2.9% to settle at $67.54 per barrel.
  • Gold futures eked out a marginal gain to finish at $1,808.50 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) ticked up 0.4% to 17.22.
  • Bitcoin prices fell 2% to $48,272.60. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.) 

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Video: These stocks have led the S&P 500 off its March 2020 low (CNBC)

These stocks have led the S&P 500 off its March 2020 low
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The Delta Variant: A Risk Investors Can Fade

That’s what Darrell Cronk, president of Wells Fargo Investment Institute, believes.

“From a health perspective, the delta variant has spread fast and is a growing concern,” Cronk says. “However, we believe the economic consequences are likely to be contained.” He also points to cases in India and the U.K., which declined as quickly as they surged.

This trend is being seen in the U.S., too, with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday showing the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas and Missouri – delta variant hotspots – are down 12% from their recent peak.

And it was likely this data point, along with the FDA’s vaccine approval, that continued to boost cyclical and reopening stocks today, with energy (+1.7%), materials (+0.6%) and financials (+0.6%) all outperforming.

For investors looking to add more recovery-themed plays to their portfolio, may we suggest this list of recovery stocks. Many of the names here slipped as the delta variant spiked, but stand to benefit as the pandemic recedes. What’s more, they’re all highly rated by the pros on Wall Street.

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