Stock Market Today: Stocks Sag on Sleepy Monday (But the Alarm Is Set)

The Dow declined on a low-volume Monday, but the start of Q1 earnings season and the Coinbase offering should spice things up later this week.

A sleeping man snores while his dog sleeps on top of him.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The market stumbled out of the blocks this week, with the major indexes all logging modest declines on a Monday that was low on trading volume and slow on broader macro news.

Consider it the calm before the (potentially fruitful) storm.

The first-quarter earnings season kicks off in earnest later this week (opens in new tab), and it could be a big one.

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"The outstanding fourth-quarter earnings season we had in 2020 is a tough act to follow, but 2021's first quarter has the makings of another potentially great earnings season," say LPL Financial strategists Jeffrey Buchbinder and Ryan Detrick. "The reopening of the economy continues to move forward, and corporate America has done an excellent job managing through the pandemic. In fact, it won't take much of an upside surprise for year-over-year S&P 500 Index earnings growth to reach 30% this quarter."

For today, however, declines in the energy (-0.8%) and technology (-0.5%) sectors weighed on the wider market, including a 0.2% loss for the Dow, which closed at 33,745.

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Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 finished marginally lower to 4,127.
  • The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.4% to 13,850.
  • The small-cap Russell 2000 also fell 0.4% to finish at 2,233.
  • U.S. crude oil futures started the week higher, adding 38 cents, or 0.6%, to settle at $59.70 per barrel.
  • Gold futures fell $12.10, or 0.7%, to close at $1,732.70 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) jumped 2.2% to 17.05.

stock chart for 041221

(Image credit: YCharts)

Where the Market's Making Sparks

But even on a yawner like Monday, there's plenty for investors to pay attention to.

For instance, Microsoft (MSFT (opens in new tab), up marginally) advanced further into the health technology space by announcing a $16 billion all-cash deal for speech-recognition software company Nuance Communications (NUAN (opens in new tab), +16.0%).

And an already firework-filled 2021 for semiconductor stocks (opens in new tab) became even more electric as Nvidia (NVDA (opens in new tab), +5.6%) announced its first server CPUs – another shot across the bow of competitor Intel (INTC (opens in new tab), -4.2%). The firm also says Q1 revenues are tracking above the $5.3 billion outlook it previously provided.

Also, a number of digital currencies headed higher ahead of Wednesday's public-market debut of Coinbase, which allows investors to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. That includes bitcoin, which at $60,068 is hovering near its all-time high of $61,712 set in March.

The offering is expected to further bolster individual and institutional interest – a key potential driver of bitcoin prices that we highlighted in our annual outlook (opens in new tab).

If you want to learn more ahead of what should be a busy week not just for stocks, but for digital currencies, check out our primer that answers common questions about bitcoin (opens in new tab). Or, have a listen to our recent conversation with Onramp Invest CEO Tyrone Ross (opens in new tab), who provides his expert insight into what bitcoin can be for investors and consumers alike.

Kyle Woodley was long NVDA as of this writing.

Kyle Woodley

Kyle Woodley is the Editor-in-Chief of Young and The Invested (opens in new tab), a site dedicated to improving the personal finances and financial literacy of parents and children. He also writes the weekly The Weekend Tea (opens in new tab) newsletter, which covers both news and analysis about spending, saving, investing, the economy and more.

Kyle was previously the Senior Investing Editor for, and the Managing Editor for before that. His work has appeared in several outlets, including Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, Barchart, The Globe & Mail and the Nasdaq. He also has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, among other shows and podcasts, and he has been quoted in several outlets, including MarketWatch, Vice and Univision. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism. 

You can check out his thoughts on the markets (and more) at @KyleWoodley (opens in new tab).