Tech stocks push market moderately higher, confidence grows

Business

Technology companies pushed the broader market moderately higher Tuesday, while a report showed solid growth in consumer confidence.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1% as of 12:52 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 46 points, or 0.1%, to 34,330 and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.2%.

With two trading days left in June, the market is getting ready to close out a strong first half of the year as the economy emerges from its pandemic-induced recession. The S&P 500 is on track for a gain of more than 14% for the first half of 2021.

Technology stocks did much of the heavy lifting for the broader market. Apple rose 1.2%.

Major banks announced plans to return billions more to their shareholders through dividend increases and stock buybacks after passing the Federal Reserve’s most recent “stress tests.” As part of passing the tests, the Fed freed the banks from the coronavirus pandemic restrictions that had been placed upon them last year.

Morgan Stanley rose 3.5% after the bank announced it would double its quarterly dividend and buy back $12 billion of its own stock over the next year. Other bank stocks that were higher included Goldman Sachs, which was up 1.4%.

Investors also got a dose of good economic news. The Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index rose to 127.3 in June. That was well above economists’ forecast of 119, according to FactSet.

A report showed that home prices soared in April at the fastest pace since 2005 as potential buyers bid up prices on a limited supply of available properties. That lifted homebuilders. Lennar rose 1.2% and Toll Brothers rose 1.3%.

The big piece of economic data this week will be Friday’s jobs report for June. Economists expect U.S. employers created 675,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.7%.

Employment has experienced a choppier recovery compared with the rest of the economy. It has also been a closely watched measure by investors because of its impact both on the economy’s continued recovery and the Fed’s future support.

“This Friday’s unemployment number is pretty important because its going to determine the trajectory of when the Fed is actually going to adjust its policies,” said Andrew Slimmon, portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

The central bank meanwhile has stuck by its position that rising inflation is mostly tied to the growing economy and will be temporary. Long-term bond yields have leveled out after jumping earlier in the year over inflation concerns. The yield on the 10-year Treasury remained at 1.48% from late Monday.

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