The S&P 500 ticked higher on Monday as gains in healthcare and technology stocks countered losses in financials, while investors kept an eye on new coronavirus cases as several countries ease lockdowns.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq was headed for its sixth straight day of gains, while the Dow Jones index slipped about 0.2%.
Technology and healthcare, the best performing sectors this year, rose 0.5% and 1.4% each. Financials, which tend to lag when the economic outlook darkens, declined 1.5%.
“Markets want to believe that later on this year we’re going to be in a better position. Definitely not right now, but we are moving towards that direction,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.
Hopes of a pickup in business activity have powered a strong rally on Wall Street from March lows, and the Nasdaq is now up more than 2% this year.
The tech-heavy index is now just 6.6% below its February record high, but analysts have warned of another selloff as macroeconomic data gets worse, foreshadowing a deep and lasting global recession.
Earlier in the day, news of a surge in new COVID-19 cases in Germany and South Korea weighed on sentiment.
“We think it’s likely a stretch for investors to chase the move much higher from here,” said Eoin Murray, head of investment at Federated Hermes.
After financial markets began pricing in negative U.S. interest rates for the first time ever last week, all eyes will be on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s outlook on the economy at a webcast event on Wednesday