July 6, 2020

Stocks close out best quarter since 1998 with more gains

A woman wearing a mask passes the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, during the coronavirus pandemic.

A woman wearing a mask passes the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, during the coronavirus pandemic. | AP Photos

Wall Street capped its best quarter since 1998 Tuesday with more gains, a fitting end to a stunning three months for investors as the market screamed back toward its record heights after a torrid plunge.

Wall Street capped its best quarter since 1998 Tuesday with more gains, a fitting end to a stunning three months for investors as the market screamed back toward its record heights after a torrid plunge.

The S&P 500 climbed 1.5%, bringing its gain for the quarter to nearly 20%. That rebound followed a 20% drop in the first three months of the year, the market’s worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis. The plunge came as the coronavirus pandemic ground the economy to a halt and millions of people lost their jobs.

“It’s the first time you’ve had back-to-back (quarters) like this since the 1930s,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. “It’s pretty unprecedented.”

The whiplash that ripped through markets in the second quarter came as investors looked beyond dire unemployment numbers and became increasingly hopeful that the economy can pull out of its severe, sudden recession relatively quickly. The hopes looked prescient after reports during the quarter showed that employers resumed hiring again and retail sales rebounded as governments relaxed lockdown orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The quarter’s gains were ignited by promises of massive amounts of aid from the Federal Reserve and Congress. Low interest rates generally push investors toward stocks and away from the low payments made by bonds, and the Federal Reserve has pinned short-term interest rates at their record low of nearly zero.

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But most of Wall Street says not to expect anything close to a repeat of the rocking second quarter. A rise in infections has several states pausing their lifting of restrictions. The surge in confirmed new cases, which has prompted the European Union to bar U.S. travelers from entry, is seeding doubts that the economic recovery can happen as quickly as markets had forecast. That helps explain why the market’s momentum cooled somewhat in June.

On Tuesday Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, warned that the number of daily new reported infections could surge to 100,000 if Americans don’t start following public health recommendations.

Beyond the coronavirus, analysts also point to the upcoming U.S. elections and other risks that could upset markets. If Democrats sweep Congress and the White House, which many investors see as at least possible, it could mean higher tax rates, which could weaken corporate profits.

The S&P 500 gained 47.05 points to 3,100.29 on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 217.08 points, or 0.9%, to 25,812.88. It had briefly been down 120 points. The Nasdaq composite climbed 184.61 points, or 1.9%, to 10,058.77.

The S&P 500 has rallied back to within nearly 8.4% of its record set in February, after being down nearly 34% in late March. At one point earlier this month, …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

      

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