Stock Market Today: Nasdaq, S&P 500 Hit New Highs to Start Packed Trading Week

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 made their way into record territory Monday on the back of strong performances by chipmakers and energy stocks.

Arrows pointing upward
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks kicked off what will be a headline-packed week with largely positive action Monday that pushed the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite into record territory.

"This week will be full of catalysts which will include: over one-third of companies in the S&P 500 announcing earnings (opens in new tab) (that number is much higher when viewed as % of market-cap), a Fed rate decision and ... the first look at Q1 GDP and inflation data," says Michael Reinking, NYSE senior market strategist.

Monday was data-light, however; headline durable-goods orders rebounded in March after a February drop but came in below estimates.

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Chip stocks including Advanced Micro Devices (AMD (opens in new tab), +3.2%) and Qualcomm (QCOM (opens in new tab), +2.6%) lifted the Nasdaq by 0.9% to a record close at 14,138.

The S&P 500 (+0.2% to 4,187) also eked out a new high, with a boost from energy names such as Schlumberger (SLB (opens in new tab), +2.5%) and APA (APA (opens in new tab), +2.6%).

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average wasn't quite so fortunate, finishing Monday with a 0.2% loss to 33,981.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • Spotify (SPOT (opens in new tab), +4.9%) jumped today on news the audio-streaming service is planning on raising prices on some of its subscriptions, with a price hike on its U.S. family plan coming as soon as this Friday.
  • Amazon.com (AMZN (opens in new tab), +2.0%) rose solidly, but not on solid news. Instead, AMZN got a lift from the rumor mill today, with shares popping on unconfirmed buzz about a possible stock split – one that theoretically would be announced during its Q1 earnings report, due out after Thursday's close.
  • American Express (AXP (opens in new tab), +4.2%) managed to brush off broader weakness in the Dow. The stock gained ground as several analysts hiked their price targets after the company reported better-than-expected Q1 profits last Friday.
  • U.S. crude oil futures fell 0.4% to settle at $61.91 per barrel.
  • Gold futures gained 0.1% to finish at $1,780.10 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) gained 2.7% to close at 17.80.
  • Bitcoin prices sank by 4.8% to $52,967. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

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(Image credit: YCharts)

A Surge in Small-Cap Strength

Leading the way today was the "little guy," with the small-cap Russell 2000 jumping 1.2% to 2,298. Reinking notes that "the Russell's outperformance is emblematic of some broader risk-on trading behavior seen not only in equities but in other asset classes as well."

And there's reason to believe that behavior will continue in the midst of America's economic recuperation.

"Since 2009, the risk-on cycle has repeated every three to four years. We have observed significant returns in small-cap stocks, cyclical sectors and low-valuation companies, relative to the S&P 500 Index, during the first year of a risk-on cycle," says Chao Ma, global portfolio and investment strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

We've recently highlighted a selection of growth-oriented small caps (opens in new tab) that investors can use to leverage this continuing trend. Today, however, we take a fresh look at 11 small-cap stocks that analysts were bullish on (opens in new tab) at the start of 2021. The good news? All but one of those picks – which range from high-octane biotechs to real estate plays with market-topping yields – remain buys.

Kyle Woodley was long AMZN 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.