Tourists take a picture with the market bull near the New York Stock Exchange.
Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes inched higher at the start of the overnight session Thursday evening just hours after the S&P 500 closed at a record high and President Joe Biden signed landmark stimulus legislation.
Dow futures added 31 points and suggested a gain of a similar magnitude when regular trading resumes on Friday. Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 futures both traded just above their flatlines.
U.S. stocks climbed to record highs during Thursday’s regular session as a rebound in tech shares resumed and Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package became law. The S&P 500 jumped 1% and hit a new closing high, surpassing its previous record from Feb. 16.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the relative laggard, finished up 188.57 points after rallying more than 300 points earlier in the session to an intraday record.
“While we expect conditions to remain volatile, the most recent developments on three of the main market drivers—stimulus, pandemic news, and inflation data— point to further equity upside,” wrote Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.
“The stimulus is substantially larger than had been expected earlier in the year. Its provisions are also likely to be highly supportive for consumption and growth,” he added in reference to the stimulus. “This windfall comes on top of existing signs of pent-up demand from US consumers.”
But while the S&P 500 clinched a new closing record, the Nasdaq Composite posted the best gain on the day with a climb of 2.5% amid the pivot back into popular technology equities. Moves that carried that index higher included a 4.7% pop in Tesla and gains of at least 3% in Apple, Facebook, Alphabet and Netflix.
The Nasdaq is clawing its way out of a 10% correction it suffered earlier this month and remains 5.48% below its own record that it set in February.
A quick rise in bond yields put pressure on the tech-heavy index earlier in March as investors shifted toward economically sensitive, cyclical stocks. Sharp increases in interest rates can put outsized pressure on high-growth tech stocks as they reduce the relative value of future profits.
That trend appeared to partially reverse on Thursday as bond yields calmed; the Nasdaq is up 3.7% so far this week and is outperforming both the S&P 500 and the Dow over the period. The 10-year Treasury yield, which peaked around 1.6% this month, was last seen just north of 1.53%.
Signs that the U.S. economy may be set for a healthy 2021 were plentiful on Thursday after Biden signed his much-anticipated $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package into law. The plan will send direct payments of up to $1,400 to many Americans, and will also put nearly $20 billion into Covid-19 vaccinations and $350 billion into state, local and tribal government relief.
Investors also cheered a slightly better-than-expected reading on weekly jobless claims that showed a decline in the number of first-time applicants for jobless benefits.