Stocks moved up modestly this morning (modest considering the damage down in the last few days) with the Standard & Poor’s 500 up 0.99% at 1 p.m. New York time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ahead 0.94%, and the NASDAQ Composite gaining 1.16%.
The move seems to have been fueled by strong talk from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would resume talks over the stalled (or dead as a doornail, if you prefer) next coronavirus stimulus bill that Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell testified in Congress yesterday was so necessary to continuing the recovery from the coronavirus recession. Pelosi and the Democrats in the House add a smidgen to optimism to the stew by saying that they were starting work on a $2.4 trillion stimulus bill. I’d note that $2.4 trillion is a big step down from the original $3.4 trillion bill passed by the House. You might be inclined to call it compromise until you remembered that the initial Republican negotiating position was a $1 trillion package that was then scaled down to just $500 billion.
By the afternoon, the stock market seems to have concluded that there wasn’t much there there in the morning’s “we’ll talk again” news.
Major indexes game back most of their earlier gains with the S&P 500 closing up 0.30% and the Dow up 0.27%. The NASDAQ Composite, which had been up 1.16% at 1 p.m. closed up 0.37% The NASDAQ 100, which had gained 1.32% closed up 0.58% on the day. The Russell 2000 managed to cling to the green with a 0.02% gain for the day. But the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM), which had been down 002% at 1 p.m. concluded the day down 0.46%.
And that was the pattern almost all across the market–stocks that had been strongly ahead gave back much of their gains and stocks that had slowed earlier losses dropped a bit more by the close.
Among technology shares, for example, Apple (AAPL), which had been up 2.18% at 1 p.m., closed ahead 1.03%. Amazon (AMZN), ahead 1.58% closed up 0.66%.
Among non-technology stocks, Disney (DIS) up 0.34% at 1 p.m. closed down 0.64%. MGM Resorts International (MGM) ahead 0.75% earlier, finished down 0.89%. Boeing (BA), which had been down 2.42%, closed with a los of 3.39%.
I’d point out that gold and gold stocks, which had been selling lower with the general market–I think investors and traders with solid profits in gold were using these shares as a source of cash–climbed strongly today. Barrick Gold (GOLD) ended the day up 1.88%, actually better than the 1 p.m. gain of 1.71%. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) closed up 2.74% (ahead of the earlier 2.54% gain) and the VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ) finished up 3.05%.
Tesla (TSLA) continued its drop from yesterday, closing down 1.23%, but the lithium producers that fell yesterday on news that Tesla would get into the lithium mining business gained 3.59% (Albemarle) and 1.73% (SQM) on the day. (More on why in a post later tonight.)
The CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX) barely budged on the day closing trading at 28.60, up a paltry 0.07% for today. Certainly no signs in the “fear index” of a rush to hedge risk.