S&P 500, Nasdaq scale record highs as Netflix soars; Biden takes office

Wall Street

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit all-time highs on Wednesday as Joe Biden became the 46th U.S. president, while solid results from Netflix sparked a rally in shares of stay-at-home winners.

Shares of the world’s largest streaming service surged 14% to add more than $30 billion to its market capitalization after it said it would no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its TV shows and movies.

The rest of the FAANG group, due to report results in the coming weeks, jumped with Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Apple and Google-parent Alphabet Inc rising between 2% and 5%.

The NYSE FANG+TM index gained 3.8%.

“People are back to looking at technology as a part of the market that can do well whether COVID stays a problem or is eventually pushed to the side,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey.

Biden will waste little time turning the page on the Trump era, aides said, signing a raft of 15 executive actions in the afternoon on issues ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the economy to climate change.

The Dow has gained about 57% since Donald Trump assumed office on Jan. 20, 2017, which compares with a 72% jump in the first term of the Obama administration.

Optimism about a COVID-19 vaccine as well as bets on a bigger pandemic relief plan under a Democrat-controlled Congress have helped Wall Street’s main indexes scale record highs in the past few months, with the blue-chip Dow jumping about 17% since the presidential elections in November.

Eight of the 11 S&P sectors advanced in afternoon trading, with technology, communication services and consumer discretionary among the biggest gainers.

Wrapping up results from major U.S. lenders, Morgan Stanley edged higher after its quarterly profit blew past estimates driven by strength in its trading business.

The broader banks index, however, shed about 1.6%, declining for the third day.

With stock market valuations sitting close to a 20-year high, investors are hoping corporate results and profit outlooks will help them determine to what degree the valuations are justified. At 11:54 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 195.20 points, or 0.63%, to 31,125.72, the S&P 500 gained 43.10 points, or 1.13%, to 3,842.01 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 227.78 points, or 1.73%, to 13,424.96.

Procter & Gamble Co raised its full-year sales forecast for a second time as it benefited from sustained coronavirus-driven demand for cleaning products. Its shares, however, slipped about 1.4% after it warned that the pace of sales might slow as vaccines roll out.

UnitedHealth Group Inc slid 0.3% after the health insurer’s quarterly profit slumped nearly 38%, weighed down by costs related to its programs to make COVID-19 testing and treatment more accessible for its customers.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.8-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.1-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 51 new 52-week highs and no new low while the Nasdaq recorded 456 new highs and 10 new lows.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.