S&P 500 slips but closes near record level

April 6, 2021 7:16 AM EDT

FILE PHOTO: A U.S flag is seen on the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo


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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The S&P 500 slipped on Tuesday but stayed near closing record highs posted in consecutive sessions, as investors weighed more strong U.S. economic data against nervousness about upcoming quarterly earnings reports.

U.S. job openings rose in February to a two-year high while hiring picked up. The data came on the heels of Friday's strong payrolls report and a report on Monday showing activity in the service sector climbed to a record high in March.

The International Monetary Fund raised its global growth forecast to 6% this year from 5.5%, a rate not seen since the 1970s.

But with an upcoming earnings season expected to show S&P profit growth of 24.2% from a year earlier, according to Refintiv data, investors may be waiting to see how strong the results will actually be.

"The big unanswered question is how open the economy is right now and how many people are out there," said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

"These security prices are reflecting an anticipation that the economy is going to get back to normal sooner rather than later and it is not exactly clear where we are in that process."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 96.95 points, or 0.29%, to 33,430.24, the S&P 500 lost 3.97 points, or 0.10%, to 4,073.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.21 points, or 0.05%, to 13,698.38.

The dip came a day after a rally sent the Dow and the S&P 500 to record highs. Investors were assessing the staying power of gains in economically sensitive sectors such as industrials and materials that have been leading the charge higher.

Shares of many economically sensitive companies are classified as value stocks. But growth, which includes many stocks in the technology and communication services sectors, has shown signs of life.

Large U.S. fiscal and monetary stimulus measures and a swift rollout of vaccines have pushed the S&P 500 and Dow to record levels, with the CBOE volatility index retreating to pre-pandemic lows.

Still, some investors remained worried about the possibility of rising inflation and proposals for higher taxes. In addition, other countries continue to have difficulty containing the coronavirus. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday the country is facing a very serious third wave.

Snap Inc jumped 5.12% after Atlantic Equities upgraded its rating on the photo-messaging app owner's shares to "overweight" from "neutral".

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd added 4.61% as it said it would begin sailing outside the United States from the Caribbean and Greek Isles in July, restarting trips after a year-long hiatus brought on by the pandemic.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.65 billion shares, compared with the 12.39 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.54-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.05-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 67 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 126 new highs and 23 new lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by David Gregorio)



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