By Caroline Valetkevitch
(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose on Wednesday, boosted by gains in technology shares, and the three major Wall Street indexes registered their fourth straight quarterly rise as investors positioned themselves for President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure plan.
Bets on a strong economic rebound supported Wall Street during the quarter even as jitters cropped up over GameStop and a retail trading frenzy, a spike in Treasury yields and a U.S. hedge fund going bust.
On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P 500 reached an intra-day record high but stopped short of hitting 4,000 and pared gains late in the day. The S&P 500 technology index led sector gains, while the energy sector fell and was the weakest sector on the day.
“The trend we’re seeing today is investors rotating back into growth-oriented names that have gotten a little bit beaten up over the past few weeks or so due to underlying rotation toward the economic reopening stocks,” said Michael Sheldon, chief investment officer at RDM Financial Group at Hightower in Westport, Connecticut.
Some cyclical sectors could also be taking a breather from their rise because of recent strength in the dollar, he said.
For the quarter, the Nasdaq underperformed the other two major indexes as investors swapped growth-oriented stocks with underpriced shares deemed to benefit most from a full economic reopening. High-flying tech names have been hit by a surge in U.S. 10-year bond yields.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85.41 points, or 0.26%, to 32,981.55, the S&P 500 gained 14.34 points, or 0.36%, to 3,972.89 and the Nasdaq Composite added 201.48 points, or 1.54%, to 13,246.87.
For the quarter, the Dow gained 7.8%, the S&P 500 rose 5.8% and the Nasdaq increased 2.8%. For the month, the Dow added about 6.6%, the S&P 500 rose 4.2% and the Nasdaq gained just 0.4%.
For a graphic on S&P 500, sectors gains for quarter and month:
Biden gave a much anticipated speech in the afternoon calling for a sweeping use of government power to reshape the world’s largest economy and counter China’s rise in a $2 trillion-plus proposal that has been met with swift political resistance.
Apple Inc rose 1.9% after brokerage UBS upgraded the stock to “buy” on stable long-term demand for iPhones with better authorized service providers.
Walgreens Boots Alliance advanced 3.6% after raising its 2021 profit forecast on higher sales at its U.S. retail pharmacy stores.
On the economic front, U.S. private employers boosted hiring in March as more Americans got vaccinated against COVID-19. The payroll report was in line with the recent signs of improvement in the labor market and comes ahead of a more comprehensive monthly jobs report on Friday.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.36-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.79-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 28 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 68 new highs and 18 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.45 billion shares, compared with a 13.4 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York; Additional reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sriraj Kalluvila and Arun Koyyur)