On Monday, stocks suffered modest losses, with the Dow shedding 123.04 points, or 0.4%, while the S&P 500 fell 0.5% as both indexes pulled back from record finishes posted Friday. The Nasdaq Composite shed 1%.
What’s driving the market?
While most companies were beating estimates for first quarter earnings in the first week of the quarterly reporting season, stocks were taking a breather after ending at records last week.
“Stocks are dropping again today with no clear catalysts. Markets are a little stretched at this point, so we may see stocks take a small step back here and there. That’s normal, and we’d expect any dip to be bought quickly,” said Callie Cox, senior investment strategist for Ally Invest.
Earnings reports, which are off to a strong start for the quarter, will remain under scrutiny as investors gauge the strength of the economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic, analysts said. Guidance from companies on the outlook for the year ahead may be even more important in determining market direction.
“Corporate outlooks may indicate whether the rally from last year’s low could continue,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group, in a note.
“In our view, with most major central banks suggesting that any spikes in inflation this year are likely to prove to be temporary, and staying committed to keeping their monetary policies extra loose, we believe that even if the earnings disappoint somewhat, there is a decent chance for equities to rebound again and continue trending north,” he said.
However, a pickup in new COVID-19 cases globally is putting a damper on sentiment, analysts said. The World Health Organization warned that global coronavirus infections were edging toward their highest level in the pandemic. The global daily new case tally almost hit a record of more than 750,000 on Sunday and Monday, according to the Washington Post, as India and Brazil remain hot spots. The U.S. has averaged 67,175 new cases a day in the past week, up 4% from the average two weeks ago, but about 50% of U.S. adults have now received one shot of vaccine.
“Concerns are rising that the spread of covid outside of the U.S. could hinder the global economic recovery and drag on guidance from U.S. companies as they report — particularly multinationals,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior financial markets analyst at City Index, in a note.
Which companies are in focus?
Apple Inc. AAPL, -1.34% was expected Tuesday to provide an annual update to high-end iPads, along with other new products, and introduce a paid subscription option within its podcast app when it holds an event in New York. Apple shares fell 1.7%.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. UAL, -9.50% lost more than $1.3 billion in the first three months of 2021, but executives said that an adjusted cash flow metric flipped to positive and promised that new international routes to countries that allow vaccinated travelers will help the airline recover from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shares fell more than 9%.
Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +2.88% on Tuesday reported first-quarter profit and sales that topped expectations, citing strength in its pharmaceutical business and continued recovery in medical devices. Shares rose 2.6%.
Shares of Abbott Laboratories ABT, -3.50% were down 4.2%, despite the company delivering results that beat earnings expectations during a quarter in which sales of its COVID-19 tests made up 20% of total revenue.
Shares of Philip Morris International Inc.PM rose 2.7% after the cigarette seller reported first-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations, as growth in heated tobacco units shipments helped offset declines in cigarette shipments.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note BX:TMUBMUSD10Y fell 3 basis points to 1.57%, after a recent short-covering rally saw yields retreat from 14-month highs. Yields and bond prices move in opposite directions.
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.20%, a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.1%.