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Stock Market News for Jan 22, 2021

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U.S. stock markets closed mostly higher on Thursday after two days of rally. President Joe Biden released the details of his COVID-19 combat plan. Moreover, positive economic data also boosted investors' sentiment. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite ended in the green while the Dow suffered a marginal loss.

How Did The Benchmarks Perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) dropped less than 0.1% to close at 31,176.012. Notably, 20 components of the 30-stock index ended in the red while 10 in green. The blue-chip index recorded all-time intraday high at 31,272.22.

The Nasdaq Composite finished at 13,530.91, gaining 0.6% due to strong performance by large-cap tech stocks. This was the tech-heavy index's all-time high closing. During intraday trading, the tech-laden index recorded an all-time high at 13,560.35.

Tech behemoths like Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) , Facebook Inc. (FB - Free Report) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN - Free Report) surged 3.7%, 2% and 1,3%, respectively. Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 advanced  less than 0.1% to end at 3,853.07, reflecting its all-time closing high. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) and the Materials  Services Select Sector SPDR (XLB) tumbled 3.4% and 1.5%, respectively, while the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) rose 1.3%. Notably, eight out of eleven sectors of the benchmark index closed in the red and three in green. During intraday trading, the broad-market index recorded an all-time high at 3,861.45.

The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was down 1.2% to 21.32. A total of 13.34 billion shares were traded on Thursday, higher than the last 20-session average of 12.92 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 1.49-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 1.30-to-1 ratio favored declining issues.

Biden's COVID-19 Response Plan

The day immediately after the day of his inauguration, President Joe Biden signed 10 executive orders to combat the outbreak of coronavirus.  First, the President mandated masks wearing and maintaining social distancing. Second, mandated wearing masks on public transportation including trains, buses and aircraft. Third, directed agencies to use wartime powers, the Defense Production Act,  to compel U.S. companies to make N95 masks, swabs and other equipment. Fourth, the Biden administration aims to accelerate the rollout of vaccines by providing more funding to local and state officials.

Five, White House plans to establish a “COVID-19 Response Office,” to coordinate the pandemic response across federal agencies ensuring clear cut communication down to local officials. Sixth, Biden has directed the response office and all federal agencies to improve federal data collection and sharing. Seventh, encouraging research on COVID-19 to get more lines of treatments. Eighth, enhancing the scale of COVID-19 infection testing. Ninth, directed the Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on school and  businesses reopenings and the spread of coronavirus. Tenth, establishing a “COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force” to ensure vaccines, treatments, masks and other resources reach everyone.

Economic Data

The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims was 900,000 for the week ended Jan 16, in line with the consensus estimate and slightly below previous week's downwardly revised data of 926,000. Continuing Claims dropped 127,000 with 5.05 million posted for two weeks ago (Continuing Claims posts data from one week in arrears from new claims), from a downwardly revised 5.15 million the previous week.

The Department of Commerce reported that housing starts in December climbed 5.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.669 million units, surpassing the consensus estimate of 1.562 million units. November's data was revised upward to 1.578 million units to 1.547 million units. In 2020, housing starts jumped 7% year over year.

Building permits in December surged 4.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.709 million units, outpacing the consensus estimate of 1.613 million units. November's data was revised downward to 1.635 million units to 1.639 million units. In 2020, building permits climbed 4.8% year over year.

Stocks That Have Made Headline

CSX's Q4 Earnings Surpass Estimates, Revenues Slide Y/Y

CSX Corp.'s (CSX - Free Report) fourth-quarter 2020 adjusted earnings of $1.04 per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1. The bottom line improved 5.1% year over year due to impressive performance of the intermodal segment. (Read More)

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