S&P rises as tech gains offset cyclical declines

The S&P 500 eked out a gain in a choppy session Thursday as surging tech stocks offset a decline in cyclical stocks.

Weighing on the indexes: oil prices fell for a sixth day and metals prices dropped as rising COVID cases raised concerns of global demand. That pulled down shares of Devon Energy and Freeport-McMoRan.

Thomson Reuters Stocks Buzz Analyst Terence Gabriel says the downtrend in commodities prices puts the S&P 500’s rally at risk.

The concern here is that with the Refinitive commodity index down, about 6%, 7% from its recent high, will this lead to greater weakness in the S&P 500, which of course hit an all-time high just this past Monday and is only down about 2% or so from those levels? So this continued decline in commodities markets is definitely going to be on the minds of traders.”

A sharp decline in jobless claims last week pointing to robust job growth couldn’t jolt the markets much higher.

The Dow ended down two-tenths of a percent. The S&P and Nasdaq edged up a tenth of a percent.

Shares of Macy’s jumped by nearly a fifth and Kohl’s surged 7%. Both department store chains raised their annual outlook for sales and profits as shoppers returned to stores. Investors especially liked Macy’s decision to restart paying dividends.

Strong demand for body care and home fragrances led Bath & Body Works to issue a bullish sales forecast. Shares rose 10% after the personal products maker beat estimates in its first earnings report as a standalone public company.

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