Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today: Stimulus Clears Congress, Sends Dow to New Highs

The House sent a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, putting more upward pressure on the Dow.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average zipped to fresh heights Wednesday, and stocks broadly enjoyed a strong session, on the imminent signing of a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill.

Technology stocks still lagged despite little evidence of near-term inflation in the government's latest consumer price index (CPI) reading, which showed a tepid 0.1% rise in "core" CPI during February.

But investors likely were thinking about inflation to come, as the House passed a third stimulus bill on to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law Friday.

"We believe spending will add to consumer-led economic growth already headed for its strongest pace in over 35 years," says Gary Schlossberg, global strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Indeed, Kiplinger has raised its GDP estimates in anticipation of this latest stimulus bill's passage.

The Dow jumped at the open and kept rising throughout the day, gaining 1.5% to a new all-time high of 32,297. The S&P 500 also finished higher, climbing 0.6% to 3,898. But the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finished with a marginal decline to 13,068.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 cruised 1.8% higher to 2,285.
  • U.S. crude oil futures improved by 0.7% to settle at $64.44 per barrel.
  • Gold futures edged 0.3% higher to close at $1,721.80 per ounce.
  • Kids gaming app Roblox (RBLX) debuted on public markets today via a direct listing. The New York Stock Exchange set a reference price of $45 per share; RBLX opened at $64.50 and closed at $69.50, a 54.4% opening-day surge.
  • Bitcoin prices improved yet again, gaining 3.5% to $56,316. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
stock chart for 031021

How to Play the Spending Boom

Wall Street's eyes are firmly fixed on the horizon, as Americans are expected to open the spending floodgates over the next few months.

"Disbursements also are coinciding with the economy's accelerated reopening due to increased COVID-19 vaccinations, declining COVID-19 caseloads, and the return of warmer weather," Schlossberg adds. "If that isn't enough, we believe consumers also are in unusually good financial shape. Ample 'dry powder' is available from a personal saving rate nearly triple its long-term norm."

This is all expected to spur a continuation of the "reflation" trade – a rapid, corrective move higher in inflation that's expected to buoy the likes of bank stocks and industrial firms, among others.

This economic pivot is the biggest thing on the minds of portfolio managers and other institutional money minds. But it's not the only thing, and they don't all see eye to eye when it comes to investing in it.

We recently reached out to professionals from the likes of Vanguard, Nuveen and ProShares to discuss their investing strategies across the rest of 2021. Read on as we share the various areas of the stock and bond markets they're monitoring for opportunities.

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