Markets

Stock Market Today: U.S. Stocks Grab the Baton From China

A surge in Chinese equities, as well as a massive improvement in services-sector data, lifted U.S. stocks and sent the Nasdaq to new highs Monday.

Stocks shot out of the blocks Monday morning, ignoring continued COVID-19 surges across many states, and instead drawing strength from China.

The state-owned China Securities Journal ran a front-page editorial pumping up the importance of a "healthy bull market" in the wake of the pandemic, leading to a massive 5.7% jump in the Shanghai Composite Index, as well as many U.S.-traded Chinese stocks.

Also Monday, the U.S. Institute for Supply Management reported the largest jump in its service-sector index, from 45.4 in May to 57.1 in June, signaling that the services industry has flipped from contraction to expansion.

"All told, we view this June ISM reading mostly as a confirmation of the upturn signaled by other indicators, and is a good sign that activity is poised for a strong increase in Q3," Deputy Chief US Economist Jonathan Millar wrote in a Monday note. "Indeed, we anticipate that the ISMs will strengthen to much more robust levels in the coming months."

The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 2.2% to 10,433, led by mega-caps including Amazon.com (AMZN, +5.8%), Apple (AAPL, +2.7%) and Tesla (TSLA, +13.5%). Now worth more than $250 billion by market value, Tesla hit all-time highs after its most bearish analyst raised his price target to $295 ... still 78% below Monday's closing price.

The Dow finished up 1.8% to 26,287, the S&P 500 closed 1.6% higher to 3,179, and the small-cap Russell 2000 climbed a modest 0.8% to 1,442.

Uncle Warren Unleashes the Money Clip

The Oracle of Omaha put some pep into Wall Street's step, too. 

On Sunday, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) announced a $9.7 billion deal to buy Dominion Energy's (D) natural gas pipeline and storage assets – the largest deal Buffett's holding company has made in years. Buffett's willingness to finally spend some cash after a quarter of heavy stock selling likely helped foster even more investor optimism.

It also might be taken as a signal of a possible bottom in battered natural gas prices, though a recovery could be a ways away.

According to Kiplinger's most recent energy outlook: "With electricity demand low because of the economic downturn and gas supplies higher than usual, it's unlikely that gas prices will be able to mount any sort of sustainable rally anytime soon."

"Going forward, setbacks in global (oil) demand recovery pose the biggest downside risk, as both Russia and Saudi Arabia have a clear self-interest in maintaining production discipline and keeping crude prices stable amid a global pandemic and recession," BCA Research analysts wrote in a Monday note.

Indeed, a miserable 2020 for energy and an uncertain horizon recently led us to make a change in the Kiplinger Dividend 15: a diverse set of 15 high-quality dividend payers. The "refreshed" Kip Dividend 15 currently yields twice as much as the broader market, and it's made up of picks that satisfy just about every income goal.

Read on to learn about the entire group, including our latest addition.

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