Wall Street kicks off month on strong footing, growth stocks lag

A trader walks outside the New York Stock Exchange in  New York City
A trader walks outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, U.S., April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

May 3, 2021

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Monday after a week of largely upbeat earnings strengthened expectations of sustained profit growth for companies, while some high-flying growth stocks lagged a broader rally.

With more than half of S&P 500 companies having already reported results so far, profits are seen rising 46% in the first quarter, compared with forecasts of 24% growth at the start of April, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors climbed in early trading, with economy-sensitive cyclical stocks, including financials, energy, industrials, and materials, leading the gains.

“Earnings so far have been substantially better than projections. People and institutions are feeling positive about the market right now even though we’re close to all-time highs,” said Mark Grant, chief global market strategist at B. Riley FBR in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Nasdaq index lagged on the day. Megacap technology stocks, including Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc, and Microsoft Corp, traded mixed despite posting largely upbeat results last week.

The stocks have struggled to maintain the upward trajectory they had coming into reporting season.

“The catalysts are strong for a sell-in-May strategy with the hot start to 2021,” said Jeff Carbone, managing partner for Cornerstone Wealth. “It may be time to take some profits from the strong growth sectors that have had big runs in 2021.”

Improving economic data, strong earnings, fiscal stimulus and the Federal Reserve’s ultra accommodative stance have supported markets, pushing the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes to record levels last week.

Data on Monday showed U.S. manufacturing activity grew at a slower pace in April, likely constrained by shortages of inputs amid pent-up demand due to rising vaccinations and massive fiscal stimulus.

The Labor Department’s non-farm payrolls data, slated to be released on Friday, is expected to show a rise in job additions in April.

At 10:07 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 287.89 points, or 0.85%, at 34,162.74, the S&P 500 was up 25.03 points, or 0.60%, at 4,206.20 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 53.48 points, or 0.38%, at 14,016.16.

Tesla Inc fell 1.2%. Industry sources told Reuters the electric-vehicle maker, under scrutiny in China over safety and customer service complaints, is boosting its engagement with mainland regulators and beefing up its government relations team.

Moderna Inc gained 3.4% after the drugmaker said it will supply 34 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year to the global COVAX program.

Estee Lauder Companies Inc slid 5.5% after missing analysts’ estimates for third-quarter sales, hurt by weak demand for the cosmetics maker’s premium makeup products as people continued working from home.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.79-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.51-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 61 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 77 new highs and 26 new lows.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)