US stocks have ended higher as increases in large tech and internet companies and oil price gains outweighed concerns sparked by fresh US-China tensions and downbeat sentiment from the annual meeting of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Major US indexes opened lower but moved higher throughout the afternoon to snap two-day losing streaks.
Stocks have rebounded sharply since late March from the coronavirus-fuelled sell-off, helped by massive monetary and fiscal stimulus.
Investors are now focused on the impact from a number of states easing restrictions designed to stop the outbreak in order to aid their economies.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday outlined a phased reopening of business activity in the state hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey, said investors were watching closely.
“Can you lift restrictions and begin to phase in economic activity and yet keep the number of cases at bay? That is what the market is focused on right now,” he said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 26.07 points on Monday, or 0.11 per cent, to 23,749.76, the S&P 500 gained 12.03 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 2842.74 and the Nasdaq Composite added 105.77 points, or 1.23 per cent, to 8710.72.
Gains in Microsoft, Apple and Amazon were the biggest lifts for the S&P 500, following mixed reaction last week to reports from big tech names.
Energy was the best-performing S&P 500 sector, rising 3.7 per cent, as oil prices gained.
Shares of Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines fell between five and eight per cent and were among the biggest decliners on the S&P 500 after a move by Berkshire Hathaway to dump stakes in major US airlines.
Shares of Berkshire itself fell 2.6 per cent and weighed on the S&P 500 after the conglomerate posted a record quarterly net loss of nearly $US50 billion.
Buffett, whose comments are closely followed by investors, acknowledged at Berkshire’s annual meeting on Saturday the global pandemic could significantly damage the economy and his investments.
Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management, said it was a change of tone for Buffet.
“His narrative was relatively sober compared to his posture over the years,” she said.
A flare-up in US-China tensions presents another challenge to the market.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday there was “a significant amount of evidence” the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory. An editorial in China’s Global Times said he was “bluffing”.
Investors are also digesting a difficult corporate results season. With more than half of S&P 500 companies reporting results so far, first-quarter earnings are expected to have fallen 12.5 per cent, according to Refinitiv data.
Shares of Tyson Foods tumbled 7.8 per cent after the company said the coronavirus crisis will continue to idle US meat plants and slow production as it reported lower-than-expected earnings and revenue for the quarter.
Data on Monday showed new orders for US-made goods suffered a record decline in March and could sink further as disruptions from the coronavirus fracture supply chains and depress exports.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.14-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 18 new highs and 14 new lows.
About 9.5 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, below the 12.1 billion-share daily average over the last 20 sessions.