Stock Market Today: Stocks Reverse Late, Absorb Minor Losses

A slip in the final hour of Tuesday's trading session pulled the Nasdaq into the red and sent the Dow and S&P to shallow declines.

Person slipping off a scooter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Traders kicked off Tuesday skittish before warming up in the afternoon … but unlike Monday's activity, a late-day U-turn lower sent most of the major indices to modest losses.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index reached a one-year high of 109.7 in March, which Barclays economist Pooja Sriram says "was likely driven by the swift progress on vaccinations and additional fiscal stimulus."

But the big data point still on investors' radar is the March jobs report, due out Thursday.

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"Some economists have suggested the number of jobs added could reach 1 million. The consensus expectation is for a still solid 680k added jobs; the last time we saw 1mm+ jobs added was in August last year, on the back of the economic rebound," says Lindsey Bell, Chief Investment Strategist for Ally Invest. But she adds that "with the S&P 500 up 51% in the past year and sitting near a new all-time high, a lot of the good news may be priced in, including a blockbuster jobs report."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished off 0.3% to 33,066, led by a host of healthcare names: Amgen (AMGN (opens in new tab), -2.0%), Merck (MRK (opens in new tab), -1.7%) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH (opens in new tab), -1.5%) all finished in the red.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 declined 0.3% to 3,958.
  • The small-cap Russell 2000 continued to zigzag, this time jumping 1.7% to 2,195.
  • The Suez Canal logjam is finally clearing up, putting downward pressure on U.S. crude oil futures, which declined 1.9% to $60.42.
  • Gold futures were off 1.7% to $1,684.80 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin prices rose once again, gaining 2.4% to $59,017. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

stock chart for 033021

(Image credit: YCharts)

Keep Your Eye on Innovators

The Nasdaq Composite was the best of the major large-cap indices, albeit with its own small 0.1% loss to 13,045.

That hardly bridged the gap that's been building in the first quarter, though – the Nasdaq (+1.2% year-to-date) is easily underperforming both the Dow (+8.0%) and S&P 500 (+5.4%) over that period.

But while analysts do see better things for value and cyclical industries than growth and tech over the short term, they shouldn't ignore the latter for the long term.

Rick Lear, Founder and Managing Partner of Lear Investment Management, for one, still has hope for tech in 2021, saying his firm "favors companies capitalizing on the proliferation of information created by 5G including AI, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, cybersecurity and machine learning."

Also long term, there's massive growth to be found in fields like space exploration, which prompted the launch of yet another space-focused ETF today.

Those looking to take advantage of a tough stretch for many of Wall Street's most forward-thinking firms could consider stocks like those in the Argus Innovation Model Portfolio. If you look back at the past few years, many of the best-performing stocks belong to companies that boast creativity, originality and a commitment to research and development. So we looked through Argus Research's picks, which reflect many of these qualities, and took a deeper dive into 15 stocks the rest of Wall Street's pros agree stand apart.

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.