Tesla lifts Wall Street to close at record highs

Financials, communication services and real estate were among the leaders of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street's main indexes closed at their highest levels ever on Monday (July 12), lifted by Tesla and bank stocks as investors eyed the start of the second-quarter earnings season and a batch of economic data.

Financials, communication services and real estate were among the leaders of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes.

Tesla rallied and was a major contributor to gains in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. CEO Elon Musk insisted in court on Monday he does not control Tesla, and he said he did not enjoy being the electric vehicle company's chief executive as he took the stand to defend the company's 2016 acquisition of SolarCity.

The S&P 500 banks index climbed ahead of quarterly earnings reports this week from major banks, including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan on Tuesday. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs rallied and helped drive the Dow to record highs.

Investors will closely watch quarterly reports for early clues on the how long the U.S. economic recovery may last, with June-quarter earnings per share for S&P 500 companies expected to rise 66 per cent, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The S&P 500 has rallied about 17 per cent so far this year, with some investors questioning how long Wall Street's rally may last and concerned about a potential downturn.

"Earnings season is going to be warmly greeted as an opportunity for existing biases to be confirmed," warned Mike Zigmont, head of trading and research at Harvest Volatility Management in New York. "Even if forecasts are not as rosy as what the most bullish had hoped, it's all going to get rationalized away." Focus this week will also be on a series of economic reports, including headline US inflation data and retail sales. As well, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is due to appear before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday for views on inflation.

Investors have been concerned about higher inflation and the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant in the past few sessions, with traders seesawing between a preference for economy linked-value stocks and tech-heavy growth names.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 130.23 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 35,000.39, the S&P 500 gained 15.2 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 4,384.75 and the Nasdaq Composite added 31.32 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 14,733.24.

Walt Disney rallied to a two-month high after it and Marvel's Black Widow superhero movie took in US$80 million in its first weekend. And the entertainment company plans to raise prices for its ESPN Plus streaming service.

Didi Global Inc dropped after it confirmed China's cyberspace administration notified app stores to remove the ride-hailing company's 25 apps and said the move could impact its revenue in the region.

Virgin Galactic Holdings tumbled as the space tourism company said it may sell up to US$500 million (S$675.9 million) worth of shares, a day after the company completed its first fully crewed test flight into space with billionaire founder Richard Branson on board.

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