Wall Street’s three major equity indexes closed out the trading day on Monday in positive territory, led by a rally in tech stocks that sent the Nasdaq to a record high. One key reason was the belief for a continuation of strong economic growth. Meanwhile, a decline in crude oil prices weighed on the energy sector.
Apple chalked up its highest closing price ever due to enthusiasm for its annual developer’s conference and Microsoft impressed with an acquisition, pushing the S&P 500 technology index to a record high, while Amazon led consumer stocks higher.
Better-than-expected jobs data for May was still key to the day’s optimism as traders turned their focus away from recent trade war fears.
The S&P 500’s technology sector chalked up a 0.8 percent gain. Due in no small part to Apple unveiling its latest operating system iOS 12. And after paring some gains in the afternoon, Apple’s shares ended the day with an 0.8 percent gain.
The consumer discretionary index was the greatest percentage gainer of the S&P’s 11 sectors, with a 1.1 percent gain, while the energy sector was its largest loser with a 0.9 percent drop, as oil prices fell on worries about growing U.S. production.
The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index underperformed the broader market with a 0.7 percent decline as shares of cancer-focused companies moved after presentations at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s meeting.
Nektar Therapeutics fell 41.8 percent and weighed on the index after mixed results from its experimental cancer drug with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo disappointed the Street.
Bristol-Myers Squibb ended 3.2 percent lower. Merck, however, gained about 2.4 percent after latest data showed its cancer drug Keytruda improved survival as a stand-alone treatment for a type of lung cancer.
Boeing rose 1.1 percent, giving the largest boost to the Dow, after the company indicated it would partner with French aerospace firm Safran SA to manufacturer and service aircraft parts.
Approximately 6.5 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.6 billion share average over the past 20 sessions.
Factory Orders Drop
New factory orders fell more than expected in April, weighed down by declines in demand for transportation equipment and machinery, but the underlying trend continued to suggest strong momentum in the manufacturing sector.
Orders decreased 0.8 percent, the Commerce Department said on Monday. Data for March was revised up to show orders rising 1.7 percent instead of the previously reported 1.6 percent increase. Orders advanced 8.3 percent on a year-on-year basis in April.
The monthly decline in factory orders is likely to be temporary amid reports of strong manufacturing conditions in May. A survey by the Institute for Supply Management last week showed sentiment among manufacturers perking up in May amid a surge in new orders.
Manufacturers, however, complained about rising prices for raw materials, especially for steel. The Trump administration in March announced tariffs for steel and aluminum imports to protect domestic industries from what it says is unfair competition from foreign producers.
Prices are likely to rise even higher following Washington’s decision last week to extend the duties to steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Some manufacturers also said they could not find skilled workers.
Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the nation’s economic activity, is being supported by strong domestic and global demand.
Orders for transportation equipment fell 6.0 percent, pulled down by a 28.9 percent plunge in the volatile orders for civilian aircraft. Transportation orders increased 6.9 percent in March. Orders for motor vehicles rose 1.0 percent in April.
Orders for machinery dropped 0.7 percent after tumbling 3.1 percent in March. That reflected a decline of 11.6 percent in orders for mining, oil field and gas field machinery. Orders for industrial machinery fell 10.0 percent.
However, orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components increased 1.8 percent. There were also increases in orders for fabricated metal products and primary metals.
Unfilled orders at manufacturers rose 0.5 percent in April. They have increased in five of the last six months. Manufacturing inventories increased a moderate 0.3 percent, which also bodes well for factory production.
The Commerce Department also confirmed that April orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which are a measure of business spending plans, increased 1.0 percent as reported last month. Orders for these so-called core capital goods fell 1.0 percent in February.
Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, rose 0.9 percent in April instead of the 0.8 percent gain reported last month.
Core capital goods shipments fell 0.7 percent in March and were up 8.4 percent year-on-year in April. Business spending on equipment is slowing after double-digit growth in the second half of 2017.
The moderation is occurring despite the $1.5 trillion tax cut package, which came into effect in January. The government slashed the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.