Stocks wobbled between small gains and losses in afternoon trading on Tuesday, after the major stock market indexes hit record highs the day before. Investors continue to keep their eyes on Washington, where it appears Democrats plan to move ahead without Republican help on a major stimulus bill for the economy.
The S&P 500 index was down 0.1% as of 1:53 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 13 points, or less than 0.1%, to 31,399 and the Nasdaq rose 0.1%. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks rose 0.5%.
A slight pullback after six straight days of gains is not uncommon, as investors pause during a rally to reassess and wait for more economic data to see where the market goes next.
The S&P 500 was nearly evenly split between gainers and losers, with communications companies rising the most. A mix of companies that deal with consumer services and products were the biggest drag on the broader market.
Several companies were making big moves after reporting their latest quarterly results. Hanesbrands soared 23% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after reporting earnings that came in well ahead of what analysts were expecting.
Mobile games developer Glu Mobile vaulted 34.9% after it agreed to be acquired by Electronic Arts in a deal valued at $2.1 billion. Shares in Electronic Arts, maker of “Medal of Honor” and other video games, rose 2.9%.
Stocks have been moving steadily higher for several days as Wall Street becomes more optimistic that the worst parts of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic might be in the rearview mirror. Vaccine rollouts continue both in the U.S. and globally, with the U.S. administrating hundreds of thousands of doses per day at this point.
Washington is preparing to go big for its next round of economic stimulus to support struggling Americans and businesses. Democrats have rallied around President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, which will include one-time payments to Americans plus a likely increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Market participants doubled down on fiscal stimulus bets” after Federal Reserve officials downplayed concerns the spending might fuel inflation, said Mizuho Bank in a report.
Shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment continue to be volatile, as online investors remain in a tug-of-war with Wall Street institutional investors over the struggling companies' values. GameStop shares were down 18.8% and AMC was down 13.3%.
Traders in cryptocurrencies continued to push up the price of bitcoin. It was up 10.2% to $47,137, according to the tracking site CoinDesk. Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange climbed 6.5% to $47,660. The futures allow investors to make bets on the future price of the digital currency.