S&P 500 rises to new record, surpassing high reached before coronavirus hit

The S&P 500 rose on Tuesday, breaking above an all-time high that was set before the coronavirus pandemic sent the broader market index tumbling. 

The index traded 0.3% higher and surpassed an intraday record of 3,393.52 set on Feb. 19. The S&P 500’s move into record territory came after the index flirted with its all-time closing high of 3,386.15 for more than a week. 

The Nasdaq Composite also hit a record, trading 0.6% higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 39 points, or 0.1%.

Here’s what traders were watching Tuesday:

  • Home Depot said sales last quarter jumped 23% as consumers stuck in their homes increased do-it-yourself projects. Earnings and sales exceeded Wall Street expectations.
  • Walmart’s earnings and revenue topped Wall Street estimates last quarter as same-store sales increased by 9.3%. E-commerce sales nearly doubled. 
  • U.S. housing starts for July totaled 1.496 million, easily topping an estimate of 1.24 million. 
  • Senate Republicans plan to introduce a narrow coronavirus relief plan that also includes $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, NBC News reported Monday evening.
  • Tesla shares jumped 5.5% in premarket trading to $1,937. The stock is set to split 5-for-1 later this month.

The S&P 500 has been flirting with a new all-time high since last week. 

“Markets lack a catalyst to help markets overcome technical resistance,” Mark Hackett, Nationwide’s chief of investment research, said in a note. “The S&P 500 has seen its best 100-day move in history, and therefore embeds optimistic assumptions on the economic recovery and fiscal stimulus. These factors will need to surprise to the upside to drive markets materially higher.”

The S&P 500 has rallied more than 50% from its March bottom amid massive fiscal stimulus and better-than-feared earnings results. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite hit a new record close and intraday high during Monday’s trading, pushing its 2020 gains to 24%.

The market has been stuck in a tight range as hopes for a new coronavirus stimulus deal dimmed with lawmakers unwilling to break a stalemate. Democrats and Republicans are holding their respective presidential nominating conventions this week and next.

Meanwhile, tensions between the U.S. and China still kept investors on edge. The Trump administration announced on Monday it will further tighten restrictions on Huawei, aimed at cracking down on the Chinese telecom giant access to commercially available chips.

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