Stocks rolled higher Monday, buoyed by better news on the jobs front and renewed strength for big capitalization tech stocks. When the dust settled, the S&P 500 (SPX) was 1.4% higher and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (NDX) up almost 1.7%, notes Jon Markman of Pivotal Point.
I’m still expecting higher prices for stocks this week, yet I would not be surprised if Tuesday featured a modest decline. The indexes have come a long way in short order. Some backup near the 4,100 level for the benchmark S&P 500 would actually be positive for bullish investors. Lasting advances are orderly. Critical support is still 3,890.
Consumer discretionary and communication services were the best-performing sectors while energy was the sole decliner on Monday.
Breadth favored advancers over decliners, and there were 965 new highs and 60 new lows. Topping the new highs list included Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), Facebook (FB), Home Depot (HD), Oracle (ORCL), and Texas Instruments (TXN). Great to see big tech back at the battlefront after a month on the sidelines.
Better economic data drove the better mood. The IHS Markit Services reading was revised up to 60.4 in March from the flash reading of 60, keeping the index ahead of the 59.8 print in February. An IHS report said the gain indicated a "substantial increase in business activity" across the sector amid surging demand. Following that, the ISM's services index for March jumped to a record high 63.7 from 55.3 in February, beating estimates. Gains were recorded in business activity, new orders, employment, and prices, according to an ISM report.
On Good Friday last week, when markets were closed for the holiday, data from the US Labor Department showed the economy added 916,000 jobs in March following an upwardly revised 468,000 in February. That compared with market expectations of 647,000, according to data compiled by Trading Economics.
Meanwhile, the West Texas Intermediate futures slid by 4.4% to $58.77. The Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers led by Russia, or OPEC+, agreed late last week to a phased reduction in 7.7 million barrels per day of production cuts from next month, gradually increasing supply as oil prices have rallied in recent months.
In company news, Tesla's (TSLA) Q1 delivery numbers are a "paradigm changer," highlighting that the pent-up demand for the battery automaker's Model 3/Y is moving to the next stage of growth as part of a global green tidal wave under way, according to a research note from Wedbush. Shares surged 4.4%.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) said Monday that it sent a letter to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlining its plan to resume cruise operations from US ports as of July 4th. Shares soared 7.2%.
Bottom line: techs have emerged from the March muck and are on track for a solid earnings reporting season in mid-to-late April when skeptics will learn once again that big, agile companies have learned how to manage their cash flow so that investors are constantly surprised.
Learn more about Jon Markman at Pivotal Point.