Stock Market Today: Dow Joins Other Major Indices at the Mountaintop

The market's momentum continued Monday as lower COVID case counts and still-growing stimulus hopes kept investors buying.

One climber helps another to the top of the mountain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A slow but perpetually moving ball of optimism kept rolling its way uphill Monday, as enthusiasm for stimulus kept the major indices rising to previously unexplored heights.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen over the weekend once again voiced support for President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, telling CNN's Jake Tapper, "I would expect that if this package is passed that we would get back to full employment next year."

Most of the market's sectors finished in the black Monday, but energy (XLE (opens in new tab), +4.2%) pushed the hardest thanks to a 2.0% jump in U.S. crude oil futures, to a 13-month high of $57.97 per barrel, amid supply cuts among major producers.

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The S&P 500 (+0.7% to 3,915), Nasdaq Composite (+1.0% to 13,987) and Russell 2000 (+2.5% to 2,289) all improved on all-time highs set Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.8% to 31,385) finally caught up to the gang, eclipsing its record close set all the way back on, ahem, Jan. 20.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • Gold futures improved by 1.2% for the second straight session, settling at $1,831.90 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin prices, at $37,754 on Friday, rocketed 16.9% higher to $44,134 after Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab), +1.3%) CEO Elon Musk said his company had bought $1.5 billion of the digital currency and said it plans to begin accepting the currency for purchases. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

stock chart for 020821

A Growthier Outlook for Stocks

While most experts remain wary of the potential for a short-term setback, they're becoming ever more optimistic about longer-term growth prospects.

LPL Financial equity strategist Jeffrey Buchbinder, for one, recently said its firm is raising both its U.S. GDP forecast (from 4%-4.5% to 5%-5.5%) and S&P 500 fair value forecast (from 3,850-3,900 by the end of 2021 to 4,050-4,100) on optimistic outlooks for stimulus measures, COVID's decline, and corporate earnings.

"A surprisingly strong fourth-quarter earnings season increases our confidence in the outlook for corporate America," he says. "With about 60% of S&P 500 companies having reported, fourth quarter earnings for the index are on pace to grow about 2% year-over-year, according to FactSet – standing in stark contrast from the 13% decline reflected in analysts’ consensus estimate when the fourth quarter began on October 1, 2020.

"During just three full weeks of earnings reports, consensus S&P 500 earnings estimates for 2021 have increased by 3.6%, a period during which estimates typically fall 2-3%."

While value remains the most heralded way of playing a rebound this year, there appears to be plenty of growth to go around – including for growth stocks. The appeal of growth stocks needs no explanation, but, if you're overexposed to just a couple of these plays, they could rattle your portfolio if the music suddenly stops.

Growth exchange-traded funds (ETFs), however, significantly reduce that kind of risk.

By helping you invest in dozens if not hundreds of growth-oriented equities, these funds ensure that an unexpected change in fates for one particular stock causes mere ripples, not waves. Read on as we explore a baker's dozen of the best tools for the job.

Kyle Woodley was long Bitcoin 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.