US stocks gave up early gains and slid near the flat line on Monday as investors seek to build six positive months in a row for the broader market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down just 7 points and the S&P 500 was up 0.1%, far from its session highs. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3%. The S&P 500 and Dow threatened to hit new all-time highs earlier in the session.
The senators presented a bipartisan infrastructure law at the weekend, which strengthened optimism on Monday. The bill provides for $ 550 billion in new spending over five years. This is on top of the previously approved funding of around $ 450 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing for the bill to be passed before the chamber goes on break on Aug. 9. Voting on amendments and a separate budget measure could prove to be hurdles slowing down the timetable for the draft law.
Still, stocks’ tepid performance came Monday as government bond yields and oil prices fell, suggesting that some investors may be concerned about economic growth, even if earnings results are strong.
“Markets are having a hard time choosing as investors look for the next catalyst either way,” said Tony Dwyer, analyst with Canaccord Genuity, in a customer announcement. “Fear of the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus and the other side of ‘Peak Everything’ has made investors nervous, while monetary and fiscal support for the economy coupled with historically strong earnings keeps liquidity high.
The yield on 10-year government bonds fell to around 1.17%, nearing its latest lows of mid-July. The returns move inversely to the prices. The last July reading for IHS Markit’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index was 63.4 on Monday, up from the provisional 63.1 and June result of 62.1. However, a similar key figure from the Instituted for Supply Management fell slightly in July.
Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab, said concerns about the slowdown in growth and the delta variant could be reasons yields are falling, but she still cannot explain current levels for bonds.
“I think the whole world expects yields to go up, and maybe they can’t,” Jones said.
One of the top performers on Wall Street was Square, whose shares rose 12% on Monday after Jack Dorsey’s payments company announced a $ 29 billion all-stock deal to purchase Australian installment loan company Afterpay. Square also announced its earnings for the second quarter, saying its gross profit was up 91% year over year and that its cash app has 40 million monthly active customers.
Automaker Tesla was another big winner on Monday, with its volatile stock rising 4%.
The S&P 500 posted its sixth month of gains in July, despite heightened volatility amid concerns over economic recovery amid the spreading Delta-Covid variant. It’s the benchmark’s best monthly winning streak since 2018. The Nasdaq Composite and Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2% and 1.3% respectively in July, while the broad S&P 500 rose just under 2.3% last month % increased.
The US is seeing an average of more than 63,000 new Covid cases per day over the past 7 days, near the highest level since April this year, according to the latest CDC data.
Local governments and companies have started enacting new rules, including Target, which requires masks for workers in high-risk areas, and Equinox, which requires proof of vaccination for gym members and employees. Officials in the San Francisco area are bringing back mask mandates this week, while New York officials on Monday encouraged people to wear masks indoors, even if they are fully vaccinated.
However, stocks are still trading near all-time highs, even as concerns about the Delta variant mount.
“Ultimately, two things drive the stock market: 1) earnings and 2) multiples, and until COVID (or China) begins to negatively impact either or both of these metrics, stocks can remain resilient,” Tom Essaye, founder of Sevens Report, said in a note.
On Monday, travel stocks were mixed, including airlines and cruise lines that could be hard hit by an ongoing wave of Covid.
CNBC Pro Stock Pick and Investment Trends:
An overall strong earnings season continues to provide tailwind for the market. According to FactSet, 88% of the reported S&P 500 companies exceeded EPS estimates. For the second quarter, the S&P 500 is well on its way to posting earnings growth of 85.1%, which would be the best growth rate since 2009, according to FactSet.
The first day of trading in August comes with more big profits. Lyft, Amgen, Uber, CVS Health, General Motors and Roku are all reporting quarterly results this week.
A big minus in earnings season was Amazon, which fell nearly 7.6% on Friday after the tech giant reported its first quarterly loss of revenue in three years and issued weaker forecasts. The stock was little changed on Monday.