Stock market news live updates: S&P 500 rises for a fourth straight day, reaching record closing high

Stocks rose Thursday for a fourth straight session as tech and bank shares advanced strongly.

[Click here to read what’s moving markets heading into Friday, February 5]

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each reached fresh record closing levels, and the Dow also advanced. Shares of eBay (EBAY) jumped 5% and shares of PayPal (PYPL) added more than 7% after both companies reported fourth-quarter results and first-quarter guidance that handily beat estimates.

Investors largely shook off concerns over heightened volatility after last week’s Reddit-fueled surge in beaten-down stocks like GameStop (GME) and AMC Entertainment (AMC). Instead, they fixed their attention back on corporate earnings results, and on more positive news on the vaccine and stimulus fronts out of Washington.

The Democratic Senate voted to move forward with a process to fast-track approval of some measures in Biden’s coronavirus virus relief proposal without needing Republican support, and the House of Representatives is also expected to adopt a similar move. And the Biden administration said this week it would begin sending COVID-19 vaccines directly to retail pharmacies, paving the way for a speedier national inoculation program.

“I think certainly last week there was a lot of focus on more technical positioning factors for various stocks and that dominated the headlines. But if we look at the data, on the economic front from the vaccine or from the pandemic front broadly, the news was kind of good, certainly on the margin,” Jason Draho, UBS head of asset allocation Americas, told Yahoo Finance.

“Once the dust settled from last week, people are sort of pivoting back to those fundamentals,” he added. “Over the next six months, that’s our view that there are more tailwinds than there are headwinds. The headwinds are really, are we wrong about these variants. Could they be more risky than we expect? Could there be disruptions on the vaccines or do vaccinations pose a risk? But the fundamentals point upward right now.”

On Thursday, investors are poised to receive a host of new earnings reports, including from Snap (SNAP), Gilead (GILD), Pinterest (PINS) and Peloton (PTON) after market close.

4:01 p.m. ET: S&P 500 rises for a fourth straight day, reaching a record closing high as bank and tech stocks jump

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:01 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +41.57 (+1.09%) to 3,871.74

  • Dow (^DJI): +332.20 (+1.08%) to 31,055.80

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +167.20 (+1.23%) to 13,777.74

  • Crude (CL=F): +$ 0.61 (+1.10%) to $ 56.30 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$ 40.70 (-2.22%) to $ 1,794.40 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.8 bps to yield 1.1390%

8:45 a.m. ET: Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier to retire in June, to be succeeded by CFO Robert Davis

Merck (MRK) CEO Kenneth Frazier is set to retire in June and will be succeeded by Robert Davis, current chief financial officer of the company, the company announced Thursday. Frazier, who has been CEO since 2011, will remain on the board of directors as executive chairman during a transition period. Davis has been CFO since 2014.

“Rob has been instrumental in helping Merck take the right actions to adapt to the changing healthcare environment while remaining committed to investing in the scientific innovation that we expect will drive our future growth,” Frazier said in a statement. “I am confident that he has the strategic and leadership skills necessary to ensure that the company remains fully committed to its core mission of translating cutting-edge science into products and services that save and improve lives while simultaneously adopting new business and operating models that will unlock future value through innovation, digital transformation, and efficiency.”

1:39 p.m. ET: Stocks hold onto gains, Dow adds 250+ points

The three major indexes added to gains in intraday trading on Thursday, and the S&P 500 came within 10 points of its all-time high.

The financials, industrials and information technology sectors led gains in the blue-chip index as Treasury yields extended their recent advances. The Dow added more than 250 points, or 0.9%, led by gains in Visa, The Travelers Company and Cisco.

9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher

Here were the main moves in markets shortly after the opening bell

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +12.75 (+0.33%) to 3,842.92

  • Dow (^DJI): +74.46 (+0.24%) to 30,798.06

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +68.22 (+0.5%) to 13,680.26

  • Crude (CL=F): +$ 0.30 (+0.54%) to $ 55.99 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$ 41.20 (-2.25%) to $ 1,793.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.9 bps to yield 1.15%

9:27 a.m. ET: Clover Health Investments stock tumbles after Hindenburg targets company in latest report

Shares of Clover Health Investments (CLOV) sank more than 12% Thursday morning after Hindenburg Research condemned the company for having allegedly “misled investors about critical aspects of Clover’s business in the run-up to the company’s SPAC go-public transaction last month” in a new report.

Among other points, Hindenburg claimed that the Clover failed to disclose that the Department of Justice is investigating at least 12 issues related to Clover, including its software “Clover Assistant,” as well as kickbacks, marketing practices, and undisclosed third-party deals.

The healthcare tech company was brought public via a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp III, the special purpose acquisition company backed by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.

9:11 a.m. ET: Non-farm productivity slides by the most in nearly four decades in the fourth quarter

Non-farm productivity slid by the most since 1981 in the final three months of 2020. The metric, which measures hourly output per worker, dropped by an annualized 4.8% in the fourth quarter following an upwardly revised 5.1% jump in the third quarter. This was also a bigger contraction than the 3.0% decline expected, according to Bloomberg consensus data.

The plunge came as output increased 5.3%, or by a smaller margin than the 10.7% increase in the number of hours worked. Unit labor costs, however, jumped 6.8% after a 7.0% slide in the third quarter.

8:39 a.m. ET: New jobless claims fell to a two-month low last week

Initial unemployment claims fell far more than expected last week, as layoffs and job losses steadied but remained at still historically elevated levels during the ongoing pandemic.

New jobless claims totaled 779,000 during the week ended Jan. 30. This followed a downwardly revised sum of 812,000 during the prior week, and beat expectations for 830,000 new claims.

Continuing jobless claims fell for a third straight week to 4.592 million, also coming in below the 4.7 million expected and revised 4.785 million during the prior week.

7:30 a.m. ET: 23andMe announces it will go public via merger with Richard Branson’s SPAC at $ 3.5 billion valuation

Consumer genetic testing company 23andMe announced Thursday morning that it will go public via a merger with Virgin Group’s VG Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company backed by Richard Branson. The deal will value 23andMe at about $ 3.5 billion.

The transaction is expected to generate up to $ 759 million in gross proceeds, and existing equity shareholders will roll 100% of their equity into the new combined company.

7:22 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures point to slightly higher, Nasdaq futures outperform

The three major indexes were mixed Thursday morning, with the Dow fluctuating between mild gains and losses while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 rose.

Here’s where markets were trading with about two hours to go until the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,827.25, up 3.75 points or 0.1%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,629.00, up 2 points or 0.01%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,447.25, up 53 points or 0.4%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$ 0.45 (+0.81%) to $ 56.14 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$ 20.30 (-1.11%) to $ 1,814.80 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.7 bps to yield 1.148%

6:03 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures open higher

Here’s where markets were trading Wednesday evening as overnight trading kicked off:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,834.5, up 11 points or 0.29%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,696.00, up 69 points or 0.23%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,437.00, up 42.75 points or 0.32%

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2021/01/28: Front view of The New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street. (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2021/01/28: Front view of The New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street. (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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