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Sunday May 16th, 2021 1:46PM

Small stocks rally, yields rise as market eyes Democratic DC

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is piling into stocks of smaller companies, banks and other companies that would be winners if Washington can prop up the economy with another dose of financial support amid rising expectations that Democrats may take control of Washington.

Most stocks across Wall Street were higher after Democrats won one of the two runoff elections in Georgia that will determine which party controls the Senate. The second runoff was still too early to call, and the S&P 500 was up 1% in morning trading after flipping an earlier loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 426 points, or 1.4%, at 30,818, as of 10:49 a.m. Eastern time.

The moves masked even bigger shifts happening underneath the surface as investors jockey to find the winners and losers of a Senate, White House and House of Representatives that may all be under the control of Democrats. The yield on the 10-year Treasury topped 1% for the first time since March, for example.

Big Tech stocks are also in the spotlight as investors shift away from the winners of the stay-at-home pandemic economy and rotate into areas of the market whose profits most need a healthier economy. The Nasdaq composite, which is full of tech stocks, struggled for much of the morning and was up a more modest 0.2%.

A report on Wednesday underscored how fragile the economy is because of the worsening pandemic. Payroll processor ADP said private employers cut 123,000 more jobs last month than they added. It was much worse than economists’ expectations for job growth, and it was the weakest such report since April.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks nevertheless soared 3%, much more than the rest of the market. Another round of stimulus for the economy could benefit smaller companies in particular because they tend to have smaller cushions to survive long-term downturns.

Stocks of companies that would benefit from increased spending on infrastructure were also helping to lead the market. United Rentals, whose catalog includes forklifts and light towers for construction sites, jumped 8.8% for one of the bigger gains in the S&P 500. Vulcan Materials, which sells asphalt and other construction materials, rose 8.5%.

Big spending plans for the economy could trigger not only stronger growth for the economy in the future but also heavier borrowing by the U.S. government and maybe even inflation. Those factors are helping to push up Treasury yields, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.04% from 0.94% late Tuesday.

The increase in yields, along with rising hopes for a strengthening economy, helped push banks higher. Financial stocks rose 4.2% for the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500. Zions Bancorporation jumped 12.1%, and Comerica gained 9.1%.

On the losing end was Big Tech. A Democratic controlled D.C. could mean tougher regulations are on the way for the group, which already has been facing increased scrutiny. Apple, the most valuable stock on Wall Street and most dominant force in index funds, said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that its board regularly reviews the company’s antitrust risks.

Another round of fiscal support for the economy would also likely accelerate a rotation by investors out of Big Tech stocks, which were remarkably resilient through the pandemic, and into beaten-down, cheaper areas of the stock market.

Several Big Tech stocks were falling, including a 1.5% drop for Apple and a 1.6% fall for Facebook. These are among the biggest companies on Wall Street, which gives their stock movements outsized weight on the S&P 500 and other indexes.

Democratic control of Washington could also lead to higher tax rates for businesses, which would crimp profits and add downward pressure on stocks broadly.

Analysts, though, also caution that no big changes may ultimately come from Washington given how slim the Democratic majority may be. If the party ultimately wins the second runoff for a Georgia Senate seat, they would have a 50-50 split in the Senate with Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris providing a tie-breaking vote.

In Asian stock markets, shares swung up and down after Hong Kong authorities arrested dozens of pro-democracy figures, including former lawmakers for allegedly violating a national security law by participating in an unofficial primary election last year held to increase their chances of controlling the legislature.

The Hang Seng index rebounded to close 0.2% higher. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.4%, and the Kospi in South Korea lost 0.7%.

Stocks in Shanghai erased early losses to gain 0.6%. Investors were weighing the potential impact of an executive order from President Donald Trump banning transactions with eight Chinese apps including Alipay and WeChat Pay in an escalation of a trade war he has been waging through most of his term. The order takes effect in 45 days, when Democrat Joe Biden will be president.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX returned 1.7%, and France’s CAC 40 rose 1.4%. The FTSE 100 in London jumped 3.7%.

___

AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
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