Stocks Finish Higher in Another Volatile Session
By Anna Hirtenstein and Michael Wursthorn
The S&P 500 edged higher Thursday, avoiding correction
territory, as technology stocks recovered some of their recent
Shares of Apple, Microsoft and other technology stocks notched
gains, pulling the major stock indexes into the green. The advance
ended a topsy-turvy session that had seen the benchmarks bob above
and below the flatline several times following mixed economic data
and an attempt by a senior Republican lawmaker to quell concerns
around the elections.
The action underscored investors' ongoing lack of conviction in
the stock market, suggesting a bumpy ride for major indexes amid a
worsening coronavirus pandemic, worries about the economy and an
increasingly contentious presidential election.
The S&P 500 closed up 9.67 points, or 0.3%, at 3246.59. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 52.31 points, or 0.2%, to
26815.44, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 39.28 points,
or 0.4%, to 10672.27. All three major indexes remain up at least
30% over the past six months.
The latest investor poll released Thursday by the American
Association of Individual Investors showed nearly 46% of
respondents expect stocks to fall over the next six months, up from
40% the prior week.
The bearish sentiment has made September a rough month. The
S&P 500 was briefly on course for a correction Thursday
morning, off more than 10% from its Sept. 2 closing record,
following data showing hundreds of thousands of Americans continue
to rely on jobless benefits. It was the latest evidence that the
economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be
David Lefkowitz, an executive director at UBS Global Wealth
Management's chief investment office, said the S&P 500's near
fall into a correction suggests investors are repricing stocks to
account for the likelihood that lawmakers won't reach a deal on
further fiscal stimulus, crimping an economic rebound.
The S&P 500 would need to close at or below 3222.76 to enter
"It's pretty unlikely we'll get anything," said Mr. Lefkowitz of
Stocks made a U-turn and started climbing Thursday after the
Commerce Department said home purchases reached a 14-year high,
highlighting how the pandemic is reshaping life and economic
The market also got a boost from reassurances from Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell via Twitter that the winner of
November's presidential election would be inaugurated as planned in
January. The tweet appeared to be a response to President Trump's
refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power a day
Investors tried to capitalize on the depressed prices of tech
stocks, some analysts said. Apple shares, for example, remain 22%
below their all-time high, while Microsoft's stock is off by 13%.
Both stocked edged up more than 1% on the session.
Despite the volatility, big Wall Street banks like Wells Fargo
and UBS remain upbeat on stocks over the long term, pinning their
projections on a rebound in corporate earnings. Both banks are
encouraging clients to pounce on the recent pullback.
Still, if Thursday's session is any indicator, daily gains may
be painful as investors contend with a lengthy list of concerns.
The coronavirus pandemic, which appears to be worsening in certain
parts of the world, remains at the top of that list, said Mr.
Lefkowitz, followed by uncertainty around an election conducted
through mail-in voting.
"America sneezes and the rest of the world catches a cold: if
you're being told that the world's largest economy will not recover
without stimulus and they can't agree on a stimulus, then that has
to be a negative piece of news," added Tony Yarrow, a multiasset
fund manager at Wise Funds. "The mood among investors is extremely
pessimistic at the moment."
Write to Anna Hirtenstein at email@example.com and
Michael Wursthorn at Michael.Wursthorn@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 24, 2020 17:13 ET (21:13 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.