Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today: Major Indexes Quietly Etch New Highs

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all squeaked out fresh highs in a fairly quiet Monday session. Much more explosive was the cryptocurrency space.

Monday was a slow-news day for the equity markets, but you might consider it the calm before the storm.

This week's earnings calendar is packed to the gills, with some 35% of S&P 500 companies releasing their quarterly financials – including mega-caps such as Apple (AAPL), Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT).

For today, however, U.S. markets mostly seemed to ignore ripples from China, where the government cracked down both on Tencent Music (TME, -3.0%) and the country's for-profit education industry, sending stocks such as New Oriental Education (EDU, -33.8%) and TAL Education Group (TAL, -26.7%) plunging, which in turn weighed on Chinese and European indices.

Here at home, June new-home sales declined 6.6% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 676,000 homes, 120,000 below estimates. That appeared to hamper the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB, -0.9%).

"Although one should always be mindful of the imprecision of these estimates, due to the small sample size used in the survey, incoming data for the past few months show tentative signs that new housing demand has moderated after surging during the pandemic," says Barclays economist Jonathan Millar. "If sustained, this softening could have adverse implications for the residential construction outlook."

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But the broader indexes remained aloft. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.2% to 35,144), S&P 500 (+0.2% to 4,422) and Nasdaq (up marginally to 14,840) all scratched out new all-time highs.

  • Hasbro (HAS) kicked off a busy week of corporate earnings with a big win. The toymaker reported second-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.05 per share on revenues of $1.32 billion – a marked improvement over its year-ago results of earnings of 2 cents per share on $1.16 billion in sales. The results easily topped analysts' estimates, as well. HAS stock finished the day up 12.2%.
  • In M&A news, Aon (AON) and Willis Towers Watson (WLTW) agreed to end plans for a proposed $30 billion merger, which would have resulted in the largest global insurance firm. The deal was first announced in March 2020, but "reached an impasse with the U.S. Department of Justice," according to Aon CEO Greg Case. AON closed the session up 8.2%, while WLTW fell 9.0%. 
  • U.S. crude oil futures slipped 0.2% to end at $71.91 per barrel, snapping their four-day winning streak.
  • Gold futures gave back 0.1% to settle at $1,799.20 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) improved 2.2% to 17.58.
stock chart for 072621

YCharts

Cryptocurrency Parties Over the Weekend 

However, one of the most exciting investment stories of late went down while equity markets were closed over the weekend.

A host of factors combined to spark a massive run in cryptocurrencies over the weekend, including Bitcoin, which shot 23.3% higher to $39,837 between Friday and Monday afternoon. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

Chief among them were the discovery of an Amazon.com (AMZN) job posting seeking a "digital currency and blockchain product lead," driving speculation that the online retailer is somehow involving itself with cryptocurrency. Also helping was nearly $1 billion in bearish bets against cryptocurrency that were liquidated (to cover a short bet, an investor must buy more of the underlying asset, driving up prices further – a phenomenon known as a "short squeeze").

For many, it's a fresh reason to get excited about digital currencies – and for others, it's a new chance to get acquainted. We can help.

To start, it always helps to know what risks you're taking with any investment: These are the five biggest threats to cryptocurrency dominance.

You should also know how you can invest. If you're constrained to your brokerage account, for instance, you can't buy Bitcoin directly – but you can buy several stocks that get you exposed to it and/or other digital currencies. And if you simply want to know the biggest players in the space, look no further. From Bitcoin to Ethereum to … yes, even Dogecoin … we break down eight of the largest, most influential cryptocurrencies the market has to offer.

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