April 19, 2024


Delighting finance buffs

Wall Street gets PayPal lift as Nasdaq wipes out 2020 declines

Wall Street’s indexes climbed on Thursday, with the Nasdaq erasing losses for 2020, following a clutch of upbeat earnings reports led by PayPal as investors looked past more weak jobs data caused by the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.

Energy .SPNY, materials .SPLRCM and financials .SPSY, which have lagged this year, led the way among S&P 500 sectors, while consumer staples .SPLRCS lagged the most.

Shares of PayPal Holdings (PYPL.O) soared 14 per cent and boosted the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq after the company said it expects a strong recovery in payments volumes in the second quarter as social distancing drives more people to shop online.

Shares of media company ViacomCBS Inc (VIAC.O) and ride-hailing firm Lyft (LYFT.O) also jumped after their earnings, as a first-quarter reporting season that Refinitiv estimates will show a 12 per cent decline in earnings begins to wind down. ViacomCBS shares rose 10.3 per cent and Lyft shares climbed 21.7 per cent.

Stocks have rebounded sharply since late March from the coronavirus-fueled sell-off, helped by massive monetary and fiscal stimulus. Investors are now watching efforts by a number of states to spark their economies by easing restrictions put in place to fight the outbreak.

“Everything is going smoothly so far and I think there’s an assumption on the market’s part that that’s a good sign,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. “The market is looking at this and saying so far, so good.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 211.25 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 23,875.89, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 32.77 points, or 1.15 per cent, to 2,881.19 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 125.27 points, or 1.41 per cent, to 8,979.66.

The Nasdaq turned marginally positive for 2020 by closing above 8972.604, after being down well over 20 per cent for the year as of late March. The S&P 500 remains down over 10 per cent this year.

Data showed millions more Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting layoffs broadened from consumer-facing industries to other segments of the economy and could remain elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen.

The US employment report for April is due on Friday.

“The market rightly or wrongly is just much more focused on what that data looks like two months from now, not what that data looks like right now,” said Eric Freedman, chief investment officer at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

Investors were also encouraged by news that China’s exports unexpectedly rose in April for the first time this year as factories raced to make up for lost sales due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The development of treatments for the coronavirus has been watched closely by Wall Street as key for resuming economic activity. Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) shares rose 8.7 per cent after the company sped up plans for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine and said it expected to start a late-stage trial in early summer.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.96-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.33-to-1 ratio favored advancers. The S&P 500 posted nine new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 56 new highs and 8 new lows.

About 10.4 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, below the 11.7 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

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