Stock Market Today: Stocks Grind Ahead, Tesla Keeps Sprinting

Tesla (TSLA) and energy stocks were high points of an otherwise subdued Tuesday of trading for the major indices.

Tesla sedan in front of a bright-colored background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The market finished an up-and-down session with modest gains Tuesday as Wall Street weighed two good news/bad news situations.

In Washington, the incoming Biden administration is signaling a third stimulus check (opens in new tab), but tensions are high as at least 10,000 National Guard troops are being deployed to protect the capital city from additional threats of violence in the wake of last week's attack on the Capitol.

Meanwhile, the federal government is expected to announce steps to speed up national COVID-19 vaccination after a turbulent rollout, but that comes as a more-contagious mutant strain continues to make inroads.

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Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab), +4.7%) was a bright spot – the best S&P 500 stock of 2020 (opens in new tab) brought its 2021 gains to 20.4% after Citi analyst Jeff Chung said a new sedan from China's Nio (NIO (opens in new tab), -1.2%) was "good but not enough to make any critical changes from Tesla's challenge."

Also on the rise were energy stocks (XLE (opens in new tab), +3.6%) after U.S. crude oil futures jumped 1.8% to hit an 11-month high of $53.21 per barrel.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.2% to 31,068, and the small-cap Russell 2000 climbed 1.7% to hit a new high of 2,127.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 produced a marginal gain to 3,801.
  • The Nasdaq Composite improved by 0.3% to 13,072.
  • Gold futures improved, too, settling up 0.4% to $1,844.20 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin prices, at $33,300 on Monday, improved to $34,300. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

stock chart for 011221

What Do the Machines Have to Say About Stocks?

We look at all the mental muscle Wall Street has to offer in our stock coverage. Any single investor is limited to their own biases, their own ideas about risk and their own goals, and so it serves readers better to present a wider array of viewpoints.

Consider our best stocks for 2021 (opens in new tab), which does include some staff picks, but also several stocks recommended by some of the industry's best fund managers. Wall Street's analyst community (opens in new tab) is useful to gauge, too, given how much more closely they're able to study firms compared to the average investor. And from time to time, we even tap the billionaire brain trust (opens in new tab), as their sizable resources and valuable connections can provide insights that most of us simply don't have.

Today, however, we've switched things up by handing it over to the machines.

Danel Capital, a financial advice company, boasts an interesting artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm – one that analyzes fundamental data, stock charts and even sentiment from investors like us – that has consistently "hand-picked" winners that have trounced the broader market over the past few years.

We're curious about how this system will fare in what's already proving to be another bizarre year, so we've highlighted the algo's top picks … and checked in with other experts to see what they think. Check it out.

Kyle Woodley was long Bitcoin and NIO as of this writing.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.