Wall Street closes higher as energy, financials lead broad rally

A nearly empty trading floor is seen as preparations are made for the return to trading at the NYSE in New York

By Stephen Culp

(Reuters) – Wall Street rallied to close sharply higher on Monday as investors sought bargains among sectors hardest-hit by the coronavirus recession, now limping toward its ninth month.

All three major U.S. stock indexes made solid gains on the heels of the longest weekly losing streak in over a year for both the S&P 500 and the Dow.

But energy <.SPNY> and financials <.SPSY>, which suffered the most bruising blows from the economic shutdown, enjoyed the largest percentage gains among major S&P 500 sectors, all of which ended the session in the black.

“Today’s market is being led by energy and financials, but it’s a very well-balanced market,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. “Every sector is participating in this rally.”

However, even with Monday’s jump, the indexes are only days away from closing the books on their first monthly declines since March, when markets were sent into a freefall by pandemic-related lockdowns.

“Given that it’s been a weak month, some rebalancing may be occurring,” Ghriskey added. “The rebalancing would move allocations to equities and some of that may be happening today.”

The third quarter also draws to a close on Wednesday, and despite September’s expected loss, the S&P and the Nasdaq are on course for their best two-quarter winning streaks since 2009 and 2000, respectively.

Market leaders Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and Amazon.com <AMZN.O> once again gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

The lack of a COVID-19 vaccine and an additional fiscal stimulus package from Washington have weighed on the markets in recent sessions.

But U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an MSNBC interview that stimulus talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to continue on Monday, suggesting a possible progress to end the stalemate.

“I’m not sure there’s any chance of it happening before the end of the year but it’s in the news and giving some traders some confidence,” said Ghriskey.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 410.1 points, or 1.51%, to 27,584.06, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 53.14 points, or 1.61%, to 3,351.6 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 203.96 points, or 1.87%, to 11,117.53.

American Airlines Group Inc <AAL.O> announced late Friday that it has secured a $5.5 billion government loan, and might access more. The news sent the commercial carrier’s stock up 3.8%.

This also gave a lift to the broader airline sector. The S&P 1500 Airlines index <.SPCOMHOME> closed 4.1% higher.

Boeing <BA.N> extended Friday’s gains, rising 6.4% after Federal Aviation Administration Chief Steve Dickson said the agency would conduct a 737 MAX evaluation flight this week.

Devon Energy Corp <DVN.N> said it would buy peer WPX Energy Inc <WPX.N> for $2.56 billion, sending their shares jumping 11.1% and 16.4%, respectively.

Ride-hailing platform Uber Technologies Inc <UBER.N> rose 3.2% after a judge ruled the company could resume operations in London.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 5.27-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.25-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 6 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 49 new highs and 35 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 8.74 billion shares, compared with the 10.05 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)