Banks power Dow to record peak; Tech drags S&P 500, Nasdaq lower

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a record closing high on Tuesday for a second straight day as financial and industrial shares rallied, while the Nasdaq fell.

The S&P 500 ended slightly weaker after hitting an intraday all-time high. Declines in shares of big growth names including Tesla Inc weighed on the index and the Nasdaq Composite, which ended down more than 1%.

Economically sensitive energy, financials and industrials were the leading sectors in the S&P 500, with financials eking out an all-time closing high.

Helping sentiment, the World Health Organization cited increasing evidence that the coronavirus variant caused milder symptoms than previous variants.

Earlier, U.S. manufacturing data for December showed some cooling in demand for goods, but investors took solace in signs of supply constraints easing.

The S&P 500 bank index rose 3.5% in its biggest daily percentage gain in about a year.

Some strategists said financials and other value-oriented stocks could be near-term market leaders as investors gear up for interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve by mid-year to curb high inflation. U.S. Treasury yields gained for a second trading day.

Investors are “going to punish growth stocks with high valuations,” said Robert Phipps, a director at Per Stirling Capital Management in Austin, Texas.

“This is a time when defensive stocks and value stocks are likely to outperform.”

The S&P 500 value index jumped 1%, while the S&P 500 growth index fell 1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 214.59 points, or 0.59%, to 36,799.65; the S&P 500 lost 3.02 points, or 0.06%, at 4,793.54; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 210.08 points, or 1.33%, to 15,622.72.

The U.S. central bank said last month it would end its pandemic-era bond buying in 2022, signaling at least three interest rate hikes for the year. Minutes from the meeting are expected to be released on Wednesday.

Daniel Morgan, portfolio manager at Synovus Trust in Atlanta, said he still favored technology and growth shares, and was optimistic that fourth-quarter earnings for tech and the chip sector in particular could be stronger than Wall Street expectations.

Tesla shares fell 4.2%, a day after jumping more than 13% on stronger-than-expected quarterly deliveries.

Ford Motor Co jumped 11.7% after the automaker said it would nearly double annual production capacity for its red-hot F-150 Lightning electric pickup to 150,000 vehicles.

General Motors Co shares rallied 7.5% a day ahead of its public debut of the Chevrolet Silverado electric pickup, which is slated to go on sale in early 2023.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.44-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 70 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 104 new highs and 102 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.49 billion shares, compared with about 10.4 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

(Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Richard Chang)