Stocks start higher ahead of big week for company earnings – Daily Journal Online

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Stocks are pushing higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading Monday and tacking more gains onto last week’s market rally, its best in three months.

The S&P 500 was 1.8% higher, following up on strengthening in stock markets around the world. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 308 points, or 1.1%, at 28,895, as of 12:35 p.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 2.6% higher.

The gains are being driven mostly by Big Tech stocks, whose businesses have proven to be practically impervious to the pandemic, rather than companies that would benefit from a strengthening economy.

Apple climbed 5.4% and alone accounted for nearly a quarter of the S&P 500’s rise. Amazon gained 5.1%. Both companies have events coming up this week, with Apple expected to unveil its latest batch of iPhones on Tuesday and Amazon holding its Prime Day on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Microsoft also headed higher, rising 3%, Facebook was up 4.6% and Google’s parent company gained 3.4%.

Energy stocks were the only laggard, pulled lower by a sharp drop in U.S. crude oil prices. Oil and gas producer Apache Corp. was among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500, down 4.2%.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks, which tends to move more with expectations for the economy’s strength than Big Tech companies, was up a more modest 0.5%.

Monday’s gains add to last week’s 3.8% rally for the S&P 500, which came amid a dizzying 360-degree spin on expectations for Congress and the White House to be able to deliver more aid for the economy.

President Donald Trump said early in the week he’d put a halt to negotiations on stimulus, even though economists and the chair of the Federal Reserve say the economic recovery likely needs it. He then backed a set of more limited programs before admonishing negotiators at the end of the week to “Go Big!” His administration unveiled its latest, increased proposal to House Democrats, valued at about $1.8 trillion.

Over the weekend, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the offer as “one step forward, two steps back,” while Trump’s fellow Republicans called it too expensive.

Investors have been agitating for more stimulus since the expiration of extra unemployment benefits for laid-off workers and other support for the economy approved by Congress earlier this year. Even if Washington can’t deliver the aid soon, some investors have been building up their expectations that it may arrive in 2021.

Rising poll numbers for Democrats are raising the odds for a sweep of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. If that were to happen, investors say it would also increase the likelihood for a big stimulus package after the election. That could offset the drag on corporate profits that investors expect a Democratic-controlled Washington would create through higher taxes and tighter regulations.

This week also marks the start of earnings reporting season for big U.S. companies, where CEOs will tell investors how they fared from July through September. Analysts are forecasting another quarter of weaker profits, with S&P 500 earnings expected to be down 20.5% from a year earlier, according to FactSet.

But that’s not as bad as analysts were forecasting a few months ago, and it’s not as bad as the 31.6% drop that S&P 500 companies reported for the spring quarter. As widespread lockdowns eased across the country, companies have been able to feel a bit of increasing momentum.

This week will feature earnings reports from many of the nation’s biggest banks, and how they fare “could give a clearer picture into just how far we’ve come in terms of economic recovery,” said Chris Larkin, managing director at E-Trade Financial.

In European stock markets, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.7%, and Germany’s DAX returned 0.7%. The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.3%.

Chinese shares led advances in Asia. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 2.2%, while stocks in Shanghai rose 2.6%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3%, and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.5%.

Trading in the Treasury market is closed for a holiday.

AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed.

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