Stocks start higher as banks, industrial companies recover
Stocks were moving mostly higher on Wednesday, helped by a recovery of bank and industrial stocks. Bond yields were steady after rising earlier this week.
Investors continue to turn their attention to Washington where Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are speaking about the government’s stimulus efforts to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Both will speak in front of the Senate later on Wednesday.
The S&P 500 index was up 0.3% as of 10 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.7% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.3%.
Bank stocks, which took a beating on Tuesday, were among the best performers. Shares of banks have been volatile the last couple of weeks as investors try to gauge the impact of higher interest rates on the U.S. economy. Higher interest rates can slow economic momentum, but they can also be good for banks because they allow banks to charge more for loans.
Bank of America was up 1.5%, JPMorgan Chase & Co. was up 2% and Citigroup was up 2%.
GameStop sank nearly 20% after reporting results that missed Wall Street’s forecasts, though the stock is still up more than eightfold since the beginning of the year after it became a social media darling for a swarm of online investors. The company took no questions from investors on its quarterly conference call late Tuesday
The pandemic remains a dominant topic for investors. Stocks fell on Tuesday after Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and the Netherlands extended lockdowns and imposed new travel and business curbs in response to spikes in infection. That followed similar moves earlier by Italy and France.
The bond market was relatively quiet for a change. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was little changed at 1.64%. It had been as high as 1.74% last week, which caused the stock market to go into selling mode.
Bond yields have risen this year as traders have been watching the potential for inflation pressures to pick up after struggling economies were flooded with credit and government spending. That has depressed U.S. bond prices, prompting some to shift money out of stocks.
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