US stocks end higher, shrugging off early weakness

Wall Street stocks finished higher Monday, shrugging off early weakness and a big drop in airline shares as Florida joined the ranks of US states reopening their economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 23,749.76, eking out a 0.1 percent gain after spending much of the session in the red.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to close at 2,842.74, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.2 percent to 8,710.71.

Investors have been encouraged by moves in several large states to gingerly reopen for business following coronavirus closures, generally employing social distancing measures, stepped-up sanitation practices and mask requirements at stores.

The reopenings have been "quite positive," said Alan Skrainka at Krilogy, adding that he has been encouraged that states are opening "responsibly" in a way that addresses both health and economic concerns.

Public health data shows a leveling off of cases in hot spots such as New York and New Orleans, but the US as a whole continues to log more cases and some health experts expect the current US death-toll of 68,000 to hit 100,000 in June.

This week's calendar includes earnings from General Motors, Disney and others, as well as what is expected to be a devastating April jobs report.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, said the jobs data is unlikely to be a big market-mover since weekly jobless claims reports already have shown an unprecedented spike in unemployment.

The focus is on "how is the reopening is going and how does that juxtapose against the new cases and the trends there," Hogan said.

Major airlines, including Delta Air Lines and United, saw their share prices fall five percent or more after billionaire investor Warren Buffett announced he liquidated his holdings in the sector amid a deep downturn.

Boeing also fell, as did travel-oriented companies Marriott International and Booking Holdings.

But Carnival jumped 2.9 percent as the cruise giant announced it will resume limited operations from Florida and Texas on August 1 after halting trips because of the pandemic which in the early days left passengers trapped on some of its ships for weeks.

Tyson Foods dove 7.8 percent as it reported lower profits following closures of several meat processing plants due to the virus, and said the company "cannot anticipate how long the challenges presented by COVID-19 will persist."