Stock Market Today: Small-Cap Stocks Sprint Out of the Blocks

Small caps enjoyed an explosive pop Monday, helped by a coalition of meme stocks and innovative growth plays, but blue chips recorded a more modest finish.

A woman sprints out of the starting blocks
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Small caps raced ahead Monday, while the major blue-chip indexes produced more mixed results, as investors continued to digest last week's jobs report and several other moving macroeconomic parts.

President Joe Biden on Friday rejected the GOP's most recent infrastructure package but was set to meet today with Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia, to continue negotiations.

Also of note were comments from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said Biden's spending plans could lead to higher interest rates – but that such a result "would actually be a plus for society's point of view and the Fed's point of view," adding that both rates and inflation have been too low over the past decade.

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Don't expect higher rates anytime soon, however; BlackRock Investment Institute strategists say the Federal Reserve "faces a very high bar to change its easy monetary policy stance."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.4% to 34,630) and S&P 500 (off marginally to 4,226) both declined modestly, while the Nasdaq Composite managed a 0.5% gain to 13,881. The tech-heavy index was helped by a massive 38.3% surge in Biogen (BIIB (opens in new tab)) shares, which came alive after the Food and Drug Administration approved the company's Alzheimer's treatment.

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"We had upgraded BIIB on the potential for the regulatory saga around adu to create significant upside," says Canaccord Genuity analyst Sumant Kulkarni (Buy). "Some might take profits here, but we continue to like the stock as today's approval allows BIIB to play much more strategic offense vs. what was a largely defensive posture earlier forced by competition to core products such as Tecfidera, Spinraza, etc."

Other action in the stock market today:

  • Eli Lilly (LLY (opens in new tab), +10.2%) surged to a record high today on a halo lift from BIIB. The Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical firm is developing its own drug to treat Alzheimer's disease.
  • Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab), +1.0%) has ended plans to produce the Plaid+ sedan – the priciest version of its Model S series. CEO Elon Musk broke the news via Twitter on Sunday, tweeting "Plaid+ is canceled. No need, as Plaid is just so good."
  • U.S. crude oil futures slipped 0.6% to end at $69.23 per barrel.
  • Gold futures gave back 0.4% to settle at $1,898.80 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) edged 0.1% higher to 16.44.
  • Bitcoin prices declined 3.3% from Friday to $35,679.55. (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)

Small-Cap Stocks Come Out on Top

As a group, small-cap stocks were Monday's biggest winner. The Russell 2000 gained 1.4% to 2,319, putting it within 2.0% of its March 15 closing high of 2,360.

"The Reddit favorites are back in vogue again today," says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist for the New York Stock Exchange, referring to so-called meme stocks such as AMC Entertainment (AMC (opens in new tab), +14.8%) and GameStop (GME (opens in new tab), +12.7%).

But they weren't alone. Cloud computing (opens in new tab), electric vehicles (opens in new tab) and online gambling (opens in new tab) were among Monday's more exciting pockets of strength.

More broadly, it was a productive day for "innovative growth stocks" – companies that are somehow breaking the mold in their respective industries. Analysts are particularly high on these 15 firms' long-term prospects, lauding not just their breakthrough technologies, but also adept management concerned with sustainable cash flows and returning capital to shareholders. Take a look at 15 innovators that stand out.

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.