Stock Market Today: Tech Takes Off as Stocks Swing Higher
A gaggle of technology and tech-esque names finished with solid gains on a Monday that saw 10 out of 11 sectors finish in the black.
Investors enjoyed broad-based gains on Monday as the market pendulum again swung in the bulls' direction, despite a quiet day on both the news and data fronts.
"Rather than developing a case for a pending directional move, including a potential major correction, we think the market is just exhibiting higher volatility and greater uncertainty at this time," says Lowry Research, CFRA's technical advisory service.
In the leadership position today were technology and other growth-oriented sectors, possibly unleashed by dimming prospects for sweeping tax changes. Republicans continue to balk at President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan – which includes a hike in the corporate tax rate – even after the White House lowered the price tag from more than $2.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion.
Tesla (TSLA, +4.4%), Facebook (FB, +2.7%) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL, +2.9%) all notched solid gains to lead the Nasdaq Composite 1.4% higher to 13,661. The S&P 500, meanwhile, advanced 1.0% to 4,197.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average extended its win streak to three with a more modest 0.5% gain to 34,393, also buoyed by tech; Cisco Systems (CSCO, +1.8%), Microsoft (MSFT, +2.3%) and Intel (INTC, +1.6%) were among the industrial average's top performers.
Other action in the stock market today:
- The Russell 2000 climbed 0.5% to 2,227.
- Virgin Galactic Holdings (SPCE, +27.6%) was a notable gainer on Wall Street today, after the company completed a successful test flight of its spacecraft VSS Unity on Saturday. It was SPCE's first spaceflight since early 2019.
- Beyond Meat (BYND, +10.0%) got a lift after shares of the plant-based meat maker received a double upgrade from Jefferies. The firm lifted its rating on BYND stock to Outperform from Underperform (the equivalents of Buy and Sell, respectively) on expectations that food service sales will bounce back as more restaurants reopen.
- U.S. crude oil futures spiked 3.9% to end at $66.05 per barrel. Boosting black gold were reports that negotiations over a possible revival of the Iran nuclear deal might be postponed until after the country's presidential election in June, which means U.S. sanctions on Tehran will remain in place for the time being.
- Gold futures edged up 0.4% to settle at $1,884.50 an ounce.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) retreated by 8.7% to 18.40.
- Bitcoin prices were up 9.3% from Friday afternoon to $39,660.14, though that hardly tells the whole story. It and other cryptocurrencies crashed over the weekend, with Bitcoin prices slumping to nearly $30,000 before staging an aggressive recovery. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
Cash Is King
The next few months are likely to reward patience and maturity – a generous way of saying that analysts are increasingly expecting modest gains ahead.
"The pickup in inflation and related concerns about the Federal Reserve pulling back support offer evidence of an economic cycle getting a bit older. Older cycles tend to bring more moderate stock market gains," says Jeffrey Buchbinder, equity strategist for LPL Financial.
But he adds that, given a backdrop of an improving economy, ongoing federal stimuli and rising vaccination rates, "We would not expect pullbacks to last very long, and any potential corrections are likely to be shallow. We would be looking for opportunities to add equities on potential dips."
In other words: If you can keep your head during down days, you should be able to poach a value buy or two – whether you're targeting smaller, low-dollar-cost shares such as these 10 dirt-cheap stocks, or Wall Street juggernauts such as these five potential-packed large caps.
But if you're looking for an X-factor as you evaluate stocks in the bargain bin, keep your eye on cash – free cash flow (FCF), to be specific.
Companies that continuously have gobs of cash left over after tackling their expenses and investments can do a number of useful things with it: pay a dividend, buy back shares or engage in some transformational M&A. We've scoured the holdings of several funds that focus on FCF to identify 10 standout stocks that know how to make cash … and know how to use it.