Dow advances as stimulus bill nears finish line

(Reuters) – The Dow climbed on Monday, led by stocks poised to benefit the most from an economic rebound as the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill awaited a final Congressional vote this week, and heavyweight tech-related stocks swung between gains and losses.

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After the legislation won U.S. Senate approval on Saturday, President Joe Biden said he hoped for a quick passage of the revised coronavirus relief package by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives so he could sign it and send $1,400 direct payments to Americans.

Prospects of more government spending and faster economic growth have stoked fears of a spike in inflation, sending the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield to near one-year highs.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, however, said on Monday the package would fuel a “very strong” U.S. recovery and she did not expect the economy to run too hot because of the increased spending.

The Dow hit a new record intraday high and was trading above its Feb. 24 record close. In the S&P 500, the financial sector was the biggest boost, hitting a record as higher interest rates and a steeper yield curve helped banks. Industrials were right behind, also reaching a record high, while the materials sector neared an all-time peak. The technology sector was deepest in the red.

“This is an ideal traders’ market with certain sectors and individual stocks performing better than the wider market, as investors pick and choose individual stocks that will perform better as the economy reopens,” said Anthony Denier, chief executive officer of trading platform Webull.

A slide in the big tech stocks that have driven the rally in equities since pandemic-induced lows of last March continued, with Apple Inc, Nvidia Corp, Tesla Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google leading declining shares on Nasdaq.

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Tech stocks are particularly sensitive to rising yields because their value rests heavily on earnings in the future, which are discounted more deeply when bond returns go up. The divergence between the tech stocks and non-tech stocks explains trading today, said Joe Saluzzi, partner and co-founder of Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey. “The stimulus package will be certainly helping the bigger cap names,” Saluzzi said, referring to non-tech stocks. “The get-out and non-stay at home stocks are doing better now,” he said.

By 3:09 p.m. ET (2009 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 416.64 points, or 1.32%, to 31,912.94, the S&P 500 lost 3.83 points, or 0.10%, to 3,838.11 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 259.71 points, or 2.01%, to 12,660.44.

Banks added about 1.7% as the yield on the benchmark 10-year note stood near a 13-month high, while airlines jumped about 5%.

Walt Disney Co jumped about 5.8% as California health officials set new rules that would allow Disneyland and other theme parks, stadiums and outdoor entertainment venues to reopen as early as April 1.

GameStop Corp surged about 33% after the company said it had tapped shareholder Ryan Cohen to lead a transition to an e-commerce business.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.68-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.28-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 124 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 390 new highs and 21 new lows.

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