Stocks mixed as tech shares advance, Apple hits record high

Stocks were mixed Monday morning ahead of a busy week that will include a slew of corporate earnings results, economic data, Federal Open Market Committee meeting and debate over the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal.

The Dow lagged, dipping more than 100 points, or 0.4%. Shares of Merck (MRK), a Dow component, sank after the company said it would discontinue its COVID-19 vaccine development program following disappointing data from their early trials. The S&P 500 was little changed.

Tech stocks rallied, and the Nasdaq jumped about 1%. A number of Big Tech stocks including Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Facebook (FB) are set to report quarterly results later this week after a strong start to earnings season over the past two weeks. Apple shares hit a record high ahead of the occasion.

With many of these tech stocks having sharply outperformed the market last year, investors will be looking to see whether these companies expect their growth to hold up even as a vaccine enables other industries to bounce back.

“The big question and debate among investors is around which tech secular themes will continue to play out in the field over the coming year,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note Saturday.

Still, he added he expects “a robust tech earnings season to kick into full gear this week with strong ‘beat and raise’ results adding to Street optimism for tech stocks in 2021,” Ives added. “In our opinion, despite the historic run we have seen in tech stocks over the past year, there is significant room to run higher as the transformational growth stories in cloud, cyber security, and 5G are just starting to play out in the field.”

Elsewhere, focus this week will also turn to Washington, where President Joe Biden is expected to make a more concerted push for Congress to prioritize debate over his $1.9 trillion relief proposal. Passing the massive proposal after more than $3 trillion in stimulus was injected into the economy last year will likely prove challenging, however. A bipartisan group of lawmakers already pushed back against the size of Biden’s proposal during a call with White House adviser Brian Deese this weekend, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

Biden’s plan, which calls for another round of stimulus checks to most Americans and aid to state and local governments, had already elicited some concern last week. Some lawmakers raised their hesitations during Janet Yellen’s confirmation hearing to become Treasury Secretary on Tuesday, noting that they believed the package as written would not provide aid targeted enough to support only the individuals and economic areas most in need during the pandemic. The full Senate is set to vote on Yellen’s nomination on Monday, after the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved her nomination on Friday.

9:52 a.m. ET: Apple shares hit a record high ahead of earnings

Shares of Apple jumped as much as 4.3% on Monday to hit a record high of $145.08 apiece, adding to its recent rally ahead of its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday.

Consensus analysts expect Apple to report $100 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time in company history. The launch of the iPhone 12 and its variants, which took place a month later than usual due to the pandemic, pushed sales entirely into Apple’s fiscal first quarter.

Shares of Apple have risen 82% over the past 12 months, far outperforming the S&P 500’s 17% advance.

9:44 a.m. ET: GameStop shares resume trading, cut gains to 41%

GameStop (GME) shares resumed trading at about 9:42 a.m. ET after a brief halt due to volatility. The stock pared some gains to rise about 41% as trading came back online.

9:36 a.m. ET: GameStop shares halted after hitting record high, as volatility after massive short squeeze continues

GameStop (GME) shares jumped as much as 55.4% on Monday to hit a record high of $101.01 per share, building on Friday’s massive rally as investors scrambled to cover their short bets against the stock. Shares of GameStop had risen 51% on Friday to close at $65.01 per share, rocketing 1,405% above its share price from a year earlier.

Shares of GameStop were halted at about 9:34 a.m. ET on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday due to volatility.

Prior to the halt, GameStop’s overnight jump came even as Wall Street firm Telsey Advisory Group double-downgraded the stock to Underperform from Outperform on Monday, citing a “disconnect between fundamentals and valuation.”

9:30 a.m. ET: S&P 500, Nasdaq open higher while Dow dips

Here’s where markets were trading shortly after the opening bell on Monday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +10.68 points (+0.28%) to 3,852.15

  • Dow (^DJI): -85.45 points (-0.28%) to 30,911.53

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +143.76 points (+1.06%) to 13,686.82

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.14 (-0.27%) to $52.13 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$6.70 (+0.36%) to $1,862.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.2 bps to yield 1.069%

7:22 a.m. ET Monday: Stock futures mixed, Merck weighs on Dow

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:22 a.m. ET Monday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,841.25, up 7 points or 0.18%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,843.00, down 66 points or 0.21%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,485.00, up 123.5 points or 0.92%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.05 (+0.1%) to $52.32 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$5.70 (+0.31%) to $1,861.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -1.4 bps to yield 1.077%

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  People wear protective face masks outside Nasdaq in Times Square as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 22, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 22: People wear protective face masks outside Nasdaq in Times Square as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 22, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

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