Stocks rose Friday, and the three major U.S. indexes yet again closed at records. Investors were mostly interested in growth tech stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.84 points, or 0.18%, to close at 31,097.97. The S&P 500 gained 20.89 points, or 0.55%, to close at 3,824.68, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 134.50 points, or 1.03%, to close at 13,201.98. The biggest gainer in the S&P 500 was electric-vehicle giant Tesla (ticker: TSLA), with a 7.8% surge, to also close at a record.
Growth tech stocks caught a bid. The Vanguard S&P 500 Growth Exchange-Traded Fund (VOOG) rose 1% and the Russell 1000 Growth Index rose 1%. The Vanguard S&P 500 Value Exchange-Traded Fund (VOOV) and the Russell 1000 Value Index—both of which are more tied to the economy than growth stocks are—rose just 0.1%.
On the surface, that may come as a surprise when interest rates continued a week-long spike. The Democrats’ win of the Senate, which comes with the strong possibility of hundreds of billions of dollars of more fiscal stimulus, catalyzed the move higher in rates and cyclical stocks early in the week. Higher rates also put outsized pressure on the valuations of growth stocks.
But powerful earnings gains in the near term for some growth companies can offset any valuation headwinds—and growth stocks already stumbled out of the gates to start the year. The previously mentioned large-cap growth fund fell 1.7% from the start of trading in 2021 through Wednesday. In that time, cyclicals jumped, with the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE) vaulting 8% in that time. Thursday and Friday, however, growth stocks are playing “a little bit of catch up” to the rest of the market, JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, told Barron’s.
Friday also saw a poor jobs report, usually a negative for cyclical stocks. The U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs, badly missing estimates for a gain of 50,000. Lockdowns were the reason, and job losses were pronounced in businesses that depend on foot traffic such as restaurants and hospitality, while other areas saw gains, Morgan Stanley economists wrote in a note. But that was likely not the reason value stocks were pressured Friday. The first indicator of that was the rising Treasury yield.
Also, investors have been looking past the winter wave of infections because fiscal stimulus and vaccines seem to be on the way. “Investors are already looking through this temporary period of economic weakness and instead focusing on the brighter outlook where fiscal spending, monetary stimulus and mass distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines together ensure the U.S. economy quickly returns to its pre-pandemic path,” Semma Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, wrote in emailed remarks to the media.
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