stocks

Stock Market Today: The Only Clear Winner Right Now? Stocks.

U.S. markets surged Wednesday amid a still-to-be-decided election that was pointing in Joe Biden's favor, but with no 'blue wave.'

Political chaos? You'd never have guessed it by the stock market's response Wednesday to the presidential election, which indeed has still not been decided. Investors who slept in after a long night of election-watching woke up with considerably more money in their portfolios than they went to sleep with.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.3% to 27,847, though late profit-taking cut the Dow's haul by more than half. The S&P 500 enjoyed one of its best post-election gains ever, jumping 2.2% to 3,443.

And the Nasdaq Composite was the most resilient of the blue-chip indices, hanging on for a 3.9% improvement to 11,590 thanks to the likes of Amazon.com (AMZN, +6.3%), Facebook (FB, +8.3%) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL, +6.1%).

"One of the big takeaways so far from Tuesday night is that the Senate likely will stay Republican, meaning we may have a divided Congress," says Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial. "The chances of higher taxes and more regulation likely took a hit under this scenario. This could be a nice tailwind for stocks, as the S&P 500 historically has done quite well under a divided Congress, up more than 17% on average.

"Additionally, in years with a divided Congress,  stocks have been higher the past 10 times, with 2020 potentially being the 11th in a row.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The Russell 2000 was virtually flat, gaining less than one point to 1,615.
  • U.S. crude oil futures jumped 4.1% to $39.18 per barrel.
  • Gold futures were off 0.7% to $1,896.20 per ounce.

Who Wins, Who Loses?

But Wednesday wasn't an across-the-board rally -- there were big winners and big losers.

Bank stocks, as measured by the SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE), dropped 5.4% today as interest rates plunged, while energy (+0.1%) crawled and materials (-1.7%) struggled on fears of a diminished federal stimulus package from a divided government.

However, healthcare stocks such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH, +10.3%) and Merck (MRK, +4.8%) soared in response to Joe Biden's slim lead, given the potential for less uncertainty around health care policy.

And, as mentioned earlier, technology and tech-esque stocks had a field day today. But why?

"With no blue wave, we are likely to see the Senate remain very closely divided, which will constrain the policy options of whoever wins the presidency," says Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. "That probably rules out any substantial activity on taxes, as well as limiting any actions to control the major tech firms."

The race is, of course, not over -- certainly not as of this writing -- so the winds could change yet again. And if there's no holding back tech, you should probably be investing in it. Investors preferring a diversified, lower-risk approach might want to consider these 15 technology ETFs, which allow you to invest in the sector more broadly, or across narrower industries and even "themes."

Or, if you can handle more risk, you can shoot for more robust returns via these seven small-cap technology companies that Wall Street is wild about right now.

Kyle Woodley was long AMZN and FB as of this writing.

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