S&P 500 closes at record with traders encouraged by strong GDP data and big-tech earnings

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© Photo by: Sergi Reboredo/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images S&P 500 closes at record with traders encouraged by strong GDP data and big-tech earnings

  • The S&P 500 closed at a record on Thursday as strong first-quarter GDP data fueled economic optimism.
  • Major US stock indexes were also lifted by blockbuster earnings from tech giants Apple and Facebook.
  • Economic growth has been boosted by a trifecta of unprecedented stimulus, vaccine rollouts, and an accelerated reopening.

US stocks closed higher on Thursday, with the S&P 500 notching a new record, as new data showed that the US economy is nearing full recovery.

Gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 6.4% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department announced on Thursday. The expansion ranks as the second-strongest pace of quarterly growth since 2003, dwarfed only by a record-breaking rebound in the third quarter of 2020.

Blockbuster earnings reports from tech giants Facebook and Apple also contributed to the record-setting gains in US equities. Facebook rose as much as 8% after reporting first-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street analyst estimates. Apple climbed as much as 3% before ending the day flat after beating expectations, increasing its dividend, and boosting its stock-buyback program.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Thursday:

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“The US economy is going to enjoy a few more months of tremendous data releases on vaccinations, stimulus checks, and pent-up consumer demand,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, said in a note. “The second half outlook is up in the air, but for now everyone wants to ride this last big wave of growth.”

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield rose after the GDP announcement and is now headed for its biggest weekly increase since March 5. The yield on the benchmark note climbed to 1.63%. Yields move inversely to prices.

The Federal Open Market Committee concluded its two-day April meeting Wednesday, announcing it would maintain its ultra-accommodative policy stance. The US central bank held the benchmark interest rate near zero and maintained the pace of asset purchases of at least $120 billion per month.

“There were no surprises from the FOMC regarding rates,” “Dom Nolan, senior managing director at Pacific Asset Management, said in a note. “Until global economies have recovered from Covid, I believe getting a true read on supply chains and labor markets will be difficult, thus anchoring the view of transitory inflation vs. structure inflation.”

Endeavor Group surged as much as 19% during its trading debut following its initial public offering. The parent company of UFC and the William Morris talent agency raised $511 million, selling 21.3 million shares at a valuation of about $10 billion.

Cruise-ship stocks soared after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the cruise industry passenger operations could resume by mid-summer, in step with the broader economic reopening in the US. Shares of Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Corp, and Royal Caribbean Group all traded higher during Thursday’s session.

Bitcoin slipped roughly 4% in a volatile trading session that saw it rise as much as 1.4%, above the $55,000 level. The cryptocurrency is now back below $53,000. Ether hit a new peak, inching closer to the $2,800 level, before paring gains.

Oil markets rallied to a six-week high. West Texas Intermediate crude rose as much as 2.5%, to $65.47 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, rose 2.5%, to $68.95 per barrel, at intraday highs.

Gold fell as much as 1.4%, to $1,756.23 per ounce.