Technology companies helped lift stocks higher on Wall Street in afternoon trading Friday, placing the market within striking distance of more record highs.
The gains are in line with the market’s modest upward tack this week as investors weigh concerns about the virus tripping up a steady economic recovery against progress in vaccinations and business re-openings.
The S&P 500 was up 0.3% as of 2:56 p.m. Eastern, on track for its fourth all-time high this week and third straight weekly gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was also on pace for a record high, gaining 145 points, or 0.4%, to 33,648. The Nasdaq composite was up less than 0.1%.
Technology stocks were among the better performers. Apple and Intel both rose 1.4%. Financial companies also rose, aided by a rise in bond yields, which translates into higher interest rates lenders can charge on mortgages and other loans. State Street was up 1.5%, while Wells Fargo rose 0.8%.
Stocks have benefited this week as bond yields, which had been steadily ticking higher, retreated from highs hit earlier in the month.
Yields resumed their rise on Friday. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which influences interest rates on mortgages and other loans, rose to 1.66% from 1.63% late Thursday. It had been as high as 1.75% on Monday.
Most analysts expect inflation to increase as the economy improves.
“We’re seeing some evidence of inflation creeping into (the) market place, but it’s not problematic,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
Investors are showing cautious optimism about the economic recovery, especially in the U.S., where vaccine distribution has been ramping up and President Joe Biden has advanced the deadline for states to make doses available to all adults to April 19.
“There’s optimism on the horizon that overall economic growth will continue as the year unfolds,” Sandven said.
But it’s clear the recovery has a long way to go. The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week rose again last week, as many businesses remain closed or partially shut down due to the pandemic.
In remarks to the International Monetary Fund Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said a number of factors are putting the nation “on track to allow a full reopening of the economy fairly soon.”
Investors will turn their attention toward quarterly results next week, when earnings season gets underway. The major banks are among the first to report their results, including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Analysts polled by FactSet have hiked their profit forecasts during the quarter. They expect growth of just over 24%, compared with the view back in September that companies in the S&P 500 would see 13% growth.
“On balance, we’re seeing earnings accelerate to provide valuation support,” Sandven said.