S&P 500, Dow ease from record highs; stimulus in focus

(Reuters) – The Dow and the S&P 500 eased from record highs on Tuesday as investors digested recent gains while awaiting progress in passing a proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, NY, U.S., April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid/File Photo

The tech-heavy Nasdaq, on the other hand, hit an all-time high for the fifth consecutive session, supported by gains in Apple Inc and Netflix Inc.

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc fell nearly 6% after the videogame publisher posted a drop in quarterly adjusted sales and shied away from announcing any new big releases.

Largely upbeat corporate earnings so far along with monetary and fiscal support have powered the Dow and the S&P 500’s six-day run but analysts have cautioned against risks from new coronavirus variants and any glitches in vaccine rollouts.

“We’ve come a long way in a short time,” said Josh Wein, portfolio manager with Hennessy Funds. “It won’t take a lot for the market to pause … whether it’s deliberations over fiscal stimulus, or the occasional talk of inflation or interest rates getting some lift.”

The energy sector, among the sectors that led the recent rally, shed about 2% while defensive utilities, consumer staples and real estate outperformed among major S&P sectors.

Last week’s data showing slower-than-expected growth in the labor market underscored the need for more government aid to blunt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House expects the House of Representatives to track closely to President Joe Biden’s relief plan as it marks up its latest round of legislation but expects lawmakers will tweak some elements.

Meanwhile, new cases of the virus have now fallen for four weeks in a row to the lowest level since early November, although health officials said they were worried new variants of the virus could slow or reverse this progress.

At 9:58 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 81.24 points, or 0.26%, to 31,304.52, the S&P 500 lost 3.79 points, or 0.10%, to 3,911.80 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 25.00 points, or 0.18%, to 14,012.64.

The banking index shed about 0.8%, tracking a fall in U.S. Treasury yields.

Toymaker Mattel Inc rose about 1%, while telephone equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc slipped 0.8% ahead of their earnings after market close.

Analysts see fourth-quarter S&P earnings to gain 2.4%, a stark reversal from the 10.3% annual decline seen at the beginning of the year, per Refinitiv.

Glu Mobile Inc jumped about 34% on a $2.4 billion buyout offer from Electronic Arts Inc that would bolster EA’s mobile platform with the addition of games such as “Design Home”, “Covet Fashion”, and “MLB Tap Sports Baseball”.

Gucci lipstick maker Coty Inc tumbled 13% as weak demand for makeup products wiped off millions off its quarterly revenue.

Bitcoin fast approached the $50,000-mark as the afterglow of Elon Musk-led Tesla’s investment in the cryptocurrency had investors reckoning it may become a mainstream asset class for both corporations and money managers.

Cryptocurrency miner Riot Blockchain and Marathon Patent Group jumped 6% and 8%, extending their sharp gains for the second day.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.3-to-1 ratio on the NYSE while they matched them on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 13 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 315 new highs and five new lows.

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