Stocks Close at Records as Biden Becomes 46th President

Investors drive stocks to records as they expect the Biden administration to increase spending to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Stocks finished at records on Wednesday as investors expected Joe Biden, who on Wednesday became the 46th president of the U.S., to increase spending to boost economic growth.

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” Biden said during his inaugural address. “A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 257 points, or 0.83%, to 31,188 and the S&P 500 gained 1.39%. 

The Nasdaq jumped 1.97%, getting a lift from strong earnings at Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Report.

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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted record intraday highs during Wednesday trading.

The S&P 500 has risen during the first 100 days in office of eight of the past nine presidents.

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Stocks closed higher on Tuesday as Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, told Congress that lawmakers must do more to lift the U.S. economy out of the recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Yellen, who could be confirmed as soon as Thursday, said that as treasury secretary she'd focus on America’s workers. She added that providing assistance for the unemployed and small businesses would provide the “biggest bang for the buck.”

"[Donald] Trump leaving office certainly removes a market-moving wild card, but the market is likely setting its sight more on the prospects of stimulus than anything else, born not just from Biden’s priorities but Yellen’s remarks on the Hill," said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investing product at E-Trade.

"Calls of an impending correction have quieted, and we’re off to a pretty solid start to earnings season, with NFLX signaling free cash flow and big banks more or less beating expectations. 

"What’s more encouraging is the positive guidance companies are projecting. So despite some inevitable bumps in the road, traders and corporate America alike are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," he added.

Yellen, who served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014-2018, did encounter Republican resistance, however, to Biden’s $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief plan at her confirmation hearing.

“Now is not the time to enact a laundry list of liberal structural economic reforms,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Netflix rose 17% Wednesday after the No. 1 streaming service added more paid subscribers than expected in the fourth quarter and at the end of 2020 surpassed 200 million streaming subscribers for the first time.

Morgan Stanley  (MS) - Get Report reported stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings thanks in part to a surge in trading, investment banking and wealth management revenue.

UnitedHealth  (UNH) - Get Report posted a stronger-than-expected fourth quarter and confirmed its 2021 profit forecast as Optum continued to power the health-care provider's top and bottom lines.

Procter & Gamble's  (PG) - Get Report fiscal second-quarter earnings topped Wall Street estimates and the company boosted its fiscal 2021 profit as home cleaning and healthcare product sales continued to boost profits.