Stock market news live updates: Stock futures rise as tech shares outperform

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Stocks traded higher Thursday, extending gains in another record-setting day on Wall Street. 

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The S&P 500 gained about 0.7% shortly after the opening bell, breaking above 4,000 for the first time ever. The Nasdaq outperformed to rise more than 1% as technology stocks jumped. Shares of electric-vehicle stocks including Workhorse Group (WKHS) and Plug Power (PLUG) increased after President Joe Biden discussed the details of his more than $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which would include building out half a million EV charging stations. 

Thursday’s session marks the first of the second quarter and of April. Historically, the month has been fortuitous for equities. Stocks have closed April higher in 14 out of the past 15 years, and since 1950, it has been the second best month for stocks, according to an analysis by Ryan Detrick, LPL Financial chief market strategist. 

Heading into the second quarter, stock leadership has tilted strongly in favor of cyclical and value stocks, which have earnings most closely tethered to the broad-based reopening of business across the U.S. economy. The energy, financials and industrials sectors have outperformed in the S&P 500 for the year-to-date, while last year’s winners – like the information technology and communication services sectors – have lagged by comparison. Many analysts think this trend will continue into the coming months. 

“I think we’re going to see more of the same in terms of market leadership. This is an environment in which the economy is likely to accelerate,” Kristina Hooper, Invesco chief global market strategist, told Yahoo Finance. “And I think that means that we’ll see continued outperformance of areas like energy, like financials, like consumer discretionary, material, industrials — those areas of the stock market that are most sensitive to the economy.”

Others made similar assertions. 

“I think the really big news is that we’re at a really big tipping point right now. We’re out of the pandemic, or getting out of the pandemic. There’s a gargantuan change in how our economy’s going to be run with the stimulus plan as well as the Build Back Better plan,” Stephen Dover, Franklin Templeton head of equities, told Yahoo Finance, referring to President Joe Biden’s recently unveiled, multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal. “So I think investors are going to have to look very differently looking forward than they have been looking in the past.”

The hefty spending plan Biden proposed this week to revitalize roads, bridges, factories, broadband and address other concerns including climate change is also set to be a key focus for equity investors going forward, with the increased government spending poised to come alongside tax policy changes in order to fund it. Biden’s plan includes lifting the corporate tax rate, with additional taxes on capital gains and individual top marginal rates likely to be unveiled later. 

“The larger impact to markets will be whether or not the corporate tax rate is raised to 28% – or somewhere in between there and the current 21% level – and whether or not a global minimum tax on corporations can be established,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, said in an email. “It’s likely that the stock market can withstand a hike in the corporate tax rate to 25%, but unclear how much room there is above that if stocks are going to keep moving higher between now and year end.” 

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher, Nasdaq gains 1% 

Here’s where markets were trading after the opening bell on Wall Street: 

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +25.79 points (+0.65%) to 3,998.68

  • Dow (^DJI): +110.44 points (+0.33%) to 33,091.99

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +170.05 points (+1.28%) to 13,417.00

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.54 (+2.6%) to $60.70 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$7.30 (+0.43%) to $1,722.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -5.1 bps to yield 1.695%

8:45 a.m. ET: New weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rose last week

New weekly jobless claims unexpectedly increased last week, even as a broadening vaccination program and the return of some high-contact service jobs took place.

Initial jobless claims rose to 719,000 for the week ended March 27. This was greater than the 675,000 consensus economists were expecting, which would have marked a new pandemic-era low. However, the prior week’s new claims were revised down to 658,000 from the 684,000 previously reported. 

Continuing jobless claims also fell less than expected, declining to 3.794 million versus the 3.750 million anticipated. The prior week’s continuing claims totaled 3.870 million. 

7:33 a.m. ET: Pfizer’s vaccine shows strong efficacy after six months

Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s (BNTX) ongoing analysis of its Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial participants showed that the companies’ inoculation remained effective six months after individuals received their second doses. 

The the latest analysis tracked individuals seven days through up to six months after the second dose, and showed 91.3% efficacy against COVID-19, versus the 95% efficacy the company reported earlier in November. The vaccine was also found to be 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 cases in South Africa, where one of the coronavirus variants has been prevalent. 

7:22 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures rise, Nasdaq futures outperform

Here’s where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell Thursday morning: 

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,979.75, +12.25 points, or +0.31%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 32,917.00, +19 points or 0.06%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,212.00, +122.25 points or 0.93%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.74 (+1.25%) to $59.90 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$3.80 (-0.22%) to $1,711.80 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.8 bps to yield 1.718%

6:00 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures tick up as overnight session begins 

Here’s where markets were trading Wednesday evening: 

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,967.25, -0.15 points, or roughly unchanged

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 32,911.00, +13 points or 0.04% 

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,100.00, +10.25 points or 0.08% 

© Provided by Yahoo! Finance People walk outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 12, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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