Stock Market Today: Tech Stocks Lead in Broad-Market Bounce
Tesla and Microsoft were two notable gainers, while semiconductor stocks also made a big move higher.
Cooler heads prevailed to start the new trading week, with stocks rebounding from Friday's Omicron-related selloff.
While a fuller picture on the latest COVID-19 variant will likely take weeks to emerge, President Joe Biden said this afternoon that Omicron is "not a cause for panic." Additionally, despite several countries putting travel restrictions in place, the market is likely taking solace in a lack of widespread lockdowns, says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist for the New York Stock Exchange.
"In fact, equities extended gains this afternoon following comments from President Biden that lockdowns were not on the table at this point," he adds.
Indeed, after a slow start, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.7% at 35,135 and the S&P 500 Index added 1.3% to 4,655.
However, it was the Nasdaq Composite that turned in the best performance of the day, gaining 1.9% to 15,782 amid strength in mega-cap tech stocks Tesla (TSLA, +5.1%) and Microsoft (MSFT, +2.1%), as well as a big rally in semiconductors (+3.5%).
Other news in the stock market today:
- The small-cap Russell 2000 slipped 0.2% to 2,241.
- Gold futures slipped 0.2% to settle at $1,785.20 an ounce.
- Bitcoin jumped 7.1% to $58,125.20. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
- Twitter (TWTR) shares initially spiked after the company announced founder and CEO Jack Dorsey would be stepping down from his post. He will be replaced at the helm immediately by Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal, who has been with the company for more than a decade. "Dorsey's trust in Agrawal is one of the reasons Dorsey felt comfortable making this transition now," says Scott Kessler, vice president and global lead at investment research firm Third Bridge. Agrawal has been with Twitter for more than a decade and has been involved in the key decisions that led to the company's turn-around. Salesforce.com (CRM) President and Chief Operating Officer Bret Taylor will become Twitter's chairman of the board, and Dorsey will remain on the board until the 2022 shareholder meeting. However, TWTR ended the day down 2.8%.
- Merck (MRK, -5.4%) slumped Monday on the back of disappointing news announced late last week that its antiviral drug, molnupiravir, only reduced risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk COVID-19 patients by 30%; it had previously estimated 50%. An FDA advisory panel will meet tomorrow to determine whether it will recommend authorizing the drug. Also Monday, Citi analysts downgraded MRK shares to Neutral from Buy, in part because they believe regulatory concerns could prompt Merck to give up on the clinical advancement of HIV drug islatravir. "We expect the diminishing outlook for islatravir to further expedite Merck's business development efforts," Citi says.
Keep an Eye on Oil
U.S. crude futures closed up 2.6% today to settle at $69.95 per barrel, but remain more than 17% below their late-October highs near the $85 per-barrel mark.
Part of this is due to Friday's drubbing, when futures plummeted more than 13% on fears the Omicron variant would impact global demand.
But Austin Pickle, investment strategy analyst at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, also points to "market anticipation" ahead of last week's announcement from several countries, including the U.S. and China, to tap strategic oil reserves in a coordinated effort to ease price pressures as a catalyst for the recent selloff.
And this week's meeting between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies – where the group could reconsider its current 400,000-barrels-per-day production boost – "will have obvious near-term oil price and geopolitical implications," says Pickle. Still, the analyst sees "higher prices by year-end 2022."
Not only would a continued rise in oil prices spell good news for master limited partnerships (MLPs) – which offer the added benefit of higher yields – but also traditional energy stocks. Here's a list of 10 energy stocks that are among the top-rated on Wall Street and could be worth watching should oil prices extend today's surge.