Stocks were moving higher in afternoon trading Friday, erasing most of the losses for the S&P 500 at the end of a choppy week.
The S&P 500 index was up 1.2% as of 2:54 p.m. Eastern. The benchmark index was within striking distance of a fifth straight weekly gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 273 points, or 0.8%, to 34,087 and the Nasdaq rose 1.7%.
The gains were shared broadly by nearly every sector in the S&P 500. Technology companies were the biggest winners, with Apple rising 2.3% and Microsoft gaining 1.4%. Banks, communication stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending also helped lift the market. Treasury yields were mostly higher.
Traders continue to focus on company earnings, getting results late Thursday from chip giant Intel and, on Friday, companies like American Express and Honeywell. Corporate earnings have been mostly positive, but investors are weighing economic growth against threats from the pandemic and worries about changes in tax policy.
“Earnings are very good,» said Chris Gaffney, president of TIAA Bank World Markets. «That’s going to support higher stock prices along with the low interest rate environment we’re seeing.”
Banks made solid gains as bond yields ticked higher, which allows them to charge more lucrative interest on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.56% from 1.55% late Thursday.
Several earnings reports disappointed investors. Intel fell 5.8% for the biggest decline in the S&P 500 after the company said late Thursday that it expects the ongoing chip supply shortage to remain for some time. The shortage of semiconductors has impacted other industries too. Car manufacturers like Ford and General Motors have had to halt production due to the lack of chips.
American Express fell 1.7% after the company reported a 10% drop in revenue from last year as many of its customers stopped using their cards for travel, entertainment and dining. The company has called 2021 a “transition year” and did not give an outlook for the upcoming year due to the uncertainty on when travel and dining would return in the U.S. and globally.
Investors are also taking into account the news out of Washington that President Joe Biden plans to introduce higher capital gains taxes to help pay for the increased government spending to help the economy recover from the pandemic. Bloomberg News reported the pending proposal, citing unidentified sources.
Higher taxes on capital gains would make stocks marginally more expensive in the long term, which might impact the market’s overall valuation. Despite millions of Americans having their retirement funds in the stock and bond markets, most stocks are owned by the rich.
News of Biden’s proposed tax policy changes shouldn’t have surprised investors, Gaffney said.
“It was a campaign promise,” Gaffney said. “The sell-off was overdone and so today we’re back up.”
Meanwhile, the price of Bitcoin dropped about 5% to $50,614, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. The cryptocurrency had traded for as much as $63,000 as recently as last week.