Stocks Enjoy Winning First Half

The S&P 500 rose to a record high on the final day of June to close out a strong first half of the year for Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrials leaped 210.22 points to close Wednesday and June at 34,502.51, boosted by strong days for Walmart, Boeing, and Goldman Sachs.

The S&P 500 added 5.7 points to Tuesday’s record, registering at 4,297.50, for its fifth-straight record close.

The S&P 500 clinched its fifth positive month in a row, rising more than 2% in June. The broad index also notched its best first half since 2019.

The NASDAQ docked 24.38 points from Tuesday’s all-time high, at 14,503.95.

The three biggest winners in the Dow this year so far is Goldman Sachs, which rose nearly 2% on Wednesday and is up more than 40% for the year. American Express and Walgreens Boots Alliance are each up more than 30% year to date.

Wednesday was the last day of the second quarter and final day of the first half of 2021. The S&P 500 has risen 14.4% year to date, while the NASDAQ and the Dow have each gained more than 12%. For the quarter, the S&P 500 climbed 8.2%.

The gains came as nearly 60% of U.S. adults have received a COVID-19 vaccine, allowing the economy to open back up at a rapid pace.

Still, new variants of the virus have raised some concerns that more restrictions such as mask wearing would have to be reinstituted because the pace of vaccinations has slowed.

Homebuilder stocks rose Tuesday after S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller published its National Home Price Index, which showed home prices rose more than 14% in April from the previous year.

Pending home sales also jumped in May to their highest level since 2005. However, mortgage demand fell last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday, with high prices and low supply appearing to squeeze out some potential buyers.

Elsewhere, the Instituted for Supply Management’s Chicago purchasing managers index came in lower than expected for June but still showed expansion.

On Wednesday, payroll firm ADP reported that private payrolls rose 692,000 in June, beating expectations. However, the firm’s May number was revised down.

Prices for 10-Year Treasurys gained ground, lowering yields to 1.47% from Tuesday’s 1.48%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gained 53 cents to $73.51 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices recovered $6.80 to $1,770.40 U.S. an ounce.