S&P 500 beating Nasdaq for fourth day as investors shift focus

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 index on Wednesday was on track to beat the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite for a fourth straight session, a feat scored only twice since Wall Street launched its massive recovery last March.

The recent outperformance of the most-followed U.S. stock market benchmark reflects a rotation away from companies viewed as benefiting from the economic lockdown caused by coronavirus, and into those crippled by the pandemic.

Data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine drove the S&P 500 0.3% higher early Wednesday afternoon, with strong gains in cruise ship lines, airlines and other companies that investors in recent months have worried might not remain solvent.

The S&P 500 financial and energy indexes, two of the weakest performers since the coronavirus ended Wall Street’s 11-year bull market in February, each rose over 1%.

“The notion of maybe getting a vaccine and getting the economy restarted has really pushed investors toward the weaker value and leveraged names on hopes that we can end this shutdown,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors.

The last time the S&P 500 outperformed the Nasdaq for four consecutive sessions was June 5, and before that, March 27, according to Refinitiv data.

The S&P 500 has climbed about 2% since last Thursday, compared to the Nasdaq’s 0.7% dip. Still, the Nasdaq hit an intraday record high on Monday, while the S&P 500 remains 5% below its February record high close.

Keeping the Nasdaq down 0.2% on Wednesday was a 2.6% drop in Amazon.com Inc , as well as losses in Alphabet Inc , Nvidia Corp , Netflix Inc and other companies that have outperformed in recent months on bets they would outgrow rivals due to the coronavirus.

Netflix’s quarterly report after the bell on Thursday will show how well the leading streaming video service has fared as a result of the coronavirus, and could affect investors’ expectations for other recent market leaders ahead of their reports in the next several days.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Richard Chang)