Stocks Rally, S&P 500 Has Best Day Since June

Stocks rallied on Wall Street, pushing the S&P 500 to its biggest gain in nine months. The 2.4% jump in the benchmark index Monday followed back-to-back weekly losses and came as investors were relieved to see long-term interest rates easing lower in the bond market. Higher interest rates can slow down economic growth and discourage borrowing. Investors were also watching Washington as a big economic stimulus bill advanced to the Senate. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.43% after reaching its highest level in more than a year last week. Technology stocks and smaller companies led the way higher.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Stocks are rising across the board on Wall Street Monday, on pace for the market’s best day in nearly nine months as traders welcome a move lower in long-term interest rates as a recent surge in U.S. bond yields eases. Investors are also watching Washington as a big economic stimulus bill advanced to the Senate.

The S&P 500 climbed 2.5% as of 3:19 p.m. Eastern., clawing back most of its losses from last week and on track for its best day since June 5.

More than 95% of the stocks in the benchmark index were higher, with technology, financial and industrial companies among those driving the rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 665 points, or 2.2%, to 31,600 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 3%.

Smaller company stocks continued to outgain the broader market, a sign that investors are feeling more confident about the economy’s prospects for growth. The Russell 2000 index was up 3.6%.

Much of the focus on Wall Street is on the bond market, where Treasury yields were headed lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.45% after going as high as 1.5% last week, the highest level in more than a year. Higher interest rates can slow the economy and discourage borrowing, so Wall Street gets jittery when there’s a big surge in rates.

“It moved really fast, the interest rate rise, and now it’s sort of leveling out so people are relieved that it’s not continuing to move up at a really fast pace,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments.

Bond yields, which influence interest rates on mortgages and many other kinds of loans, have been steadily climbing much of the year, as investors have bet that vaccination efforts and more government stimulus will lead to strong economic growth this year. However, along with strong economic growth comes concerns of inflation.

A handful high-level officials with the Federal Reserve will make speeches this week, which will give investors additional information on how concerned the nation’s central bank is about the economy and inflation. Lael Brainard, an advocate for looser monetary policies, will give a monetary policy speech on Tuesday and Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a speech on Thursday.

The House of Representatives approved Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill on Friday and it now goes to the Senate for approval. The bill infuses cash across the struggling economy to individuals, businesses, schools, states and cities battered by COVID-19.

The stimulus bill would include yet another round of one-time payments to most Americans, including an expansion of other refundable tax credits like the child tax credit, and additional aid to state and local governments to combat the pandemic.

Johnson & Johnson rose 0.7% after the Food and Drug Administration gave approval for the company’s own coronavirus vaccine, one that does not require extensive refrigeration like the ones made by Moderna and Pfizer.

Technology and financial companies made some of the biggest gains. Apple surged 5% and Citigroup rose 6.1%. Companies that rely on consumer spending also fared well. Etsy jumped 11.6% and cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty gained 5.1%.

Industrial companies, including airlines beaten down by the virus pandemic, also helped boost the broader market. American Airlines rose 1.1%.

Investors will get several big economic reports this week, including February’s jobs report on Friday. On Monday a report on manufacturing came in better than expectations, and new orders also came in better than expected.

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