Stock Market Today: Stocks Search for Direction

A choppy day of trading left the major indices largely unchanged.

Mixed stock prices on screen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks finished with little movement for a second consecutive session Wednesday, held in check by lackluster trading in big tech stocks.

Although Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab), -5.3%) tumbled on reports that competitor Rivian is preparing an initial public offering and Twitter (TWTR (opens in new tab), +13.2%) reached a seven-year high thanks to strong first-quarter user growth, the biggest names in the sector -- Microsoft (MSFT (opens in new tab), -0.4%), Apple (AAPL (opens in new tab), -0.5%), Alphabet (GOOGL (opens in new tab), +0.5%) and (AMZN (opens in new tab), -0.6%) -- hardly budged.

By the day's end, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% to 31,438, eking out another record close. The broader S&P 500 retreated 0.03% to 3,909, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 0.3% to 13,972.

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Other action in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 slipped 0.7% to 2,282.
  • The U.S. Dollar Index added 0.01% to 90.43.
  • U.S. crude oil futures improved by 0.1% to $58.43 per barrel.
  • Gold futures extended their winning streak to four sessions, gaining 0.3% to $1,843.40 per ounce.

stock market chart 011321

Major U.S. Indices for 2/10/2021
(Image credit: Ycharts)

Is a Rotation Out of Bonds Good for Dividend Stocks?

In a speech on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled a commitment to low interest rates, suggesting inflation should remain in check -- albeit temporarily on the rise as the economy recovers. (Kiplinger's is forecasting 2.3% inflation in 2021 (opens in new tab), up from 2020's rate of 1.4% but right in line with 2019's 2.3%.) The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note -- which reflects inflation expectations -- is back to levels last seen in March 2020.

For fixed-income investors, dividend growth stocks (opens in new tab) can easily keep up with mild inflation and fulfill a need for income, too.

"Another potential stock-market driver is rotation out of bonds, which shows signs of accelerating," writes Jim Kelleher, director of research at Argus Research. "At some point, rising yields will attract income-hungry retail investors who want to replace volatile equity exposure with something more certain."

Utility stocks are a good place to look for generous yields and will benefit from increased energy use. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) should likewise generate outsized gains in a recovery to become an equity income investor's best friend.

As for long-term equity income investors, they can't go wrong with companies that have raised their dividends every year for decades. Known as the Dividend Aristocrats, have a look at 65 top dividend stocks for the year ahead.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer,

Dan Burrows is a financial writer at Kiplinger, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.

A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.

Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.

In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics and more.

Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.

Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.