Stocks rally to records as Biden takes aim at Big Tech, banks for anti-competitive practices

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U.S. stock markets surged to record highs Friday as investors looked past promises from the Biden administration to crack down on what it deems as anti-competitive practices by banks, Big Tech and other industries.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 447 points, or 1.3%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite ticked up 1.13% and 0.98%, respectively. Although all three averages closed at all-time highs, only S&P 500 put in an intraday peak.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 34870.16 +448.23 +1.30%
SP500 S&P 500 4369.55 +48.73 +1.13%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 14701.918932 +142.13 +0.98%

The appetite for stocks caused money to rotate out of the bond market, causing the yield on the 10-year note to rise 6 basis points to 1.348% after finishing Thursday at its lowest level since Feb. 18.

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In stocks, financials bounced back as selling in the U.S. Treasury market swung the yield curve steeper.  

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GS THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC. 371.99 +12.81 +3.57%
JPM JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. 155.34 +4.28 +2.83%
WFC WELLS FARGO & CO. 43.93 +1.62 +3.83%

Meanwhile, President Biden on Friday signed an executive order targeting bank mergers by calling on the Federal Reserve and Department of Justice to step up scrutiny of those deals. The order also targeted Big Tech companies like Amazon Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AMZN AMAZON.COM, INC. 3,719.34 -12.07 -0.32%
FB FACEBOOK, INC. 350.42 +4.77 +1.38%
GOOGL ALPHABET, INC. 2,510.37 +9.49 +0.38%

Elsewhere, cigarette maker Philip Morris International on Friday agreed to buy British drugmaker Vectura for $1.44 billion (1.05 billion pounds) as it looks to diversify away from tobacco.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
PM PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL, INC. 99.35 +1.01 +1.03%
GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. 58.81 +2.70 +4.81%

General Motors Co. was initiated with an outperform rating and an $85 price target at Wedbush Securities as the Detroit-based automaker looks to roll out “game-changing” battery technology and at least 20 electric models over the next two years. 

In earnings, Levi Strauss & Co. beat Wall Street estimates on both the top and bottom lines and issued a full-year profit forecast that easily exceeding expectations. The apparel maker also hiked its quarterly dividend by 2 cents to 8 cents a share. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LEVI LEVI STRAUSS & CO. 28.38 +0.38 +1.36%

Investors are also eyeing space stocks and exchange-traded funds ahead of Richard Branson’s historic Virgin Galactic flight set for Sunday.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SPCE VIRGIN GALACTIC HOLDINGS INC. 49.27 -3.48 -6.60%
UFO PROCURE ETF TRUST II PROCURE SPACE ETF 31.04 +0.56 +1.84%

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil jumped $1.62 to $74.56 a barrel and gold edged up $10.40 to $1,810 an ounce. 

Overseas markets were mostly higher. 

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European bourses rallied across the board with France’s CAC 40 trading up 2.07%, Germany’s DAX 30 gaining 1.73% and Britain’s FTSE 100 advancing 1.3%. 

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index outperformed, rising 0.7%, while China’s Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.04% and 0.63%, respectively. 

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