The S&P 500 rallied on Tuesday to finish higher and secure its biggest quarterly percentage gain in more than two decades as improving economic data bolstered investor beliefs that a stimulus-backed rebound for the US economy was on the horizon.
Coming off a drop of 20 percent in the first quarter, the biggest quarterly decline since the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2008, the S&P rallied more than 19.95 percent to notch its biggest quarterly gain since 1998, at the height of the tech boom.
The gains have been fuelled by unprecedented levels of fiscal and monetary stimulus and the easing of restrictions.
But the S&P 500 is still down about 4 percent on the year, and gains in June stood at just 2 percent due to the flare-up in virus cases that has threatened to delay reopenings and derail a tentative economic recovery. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated in comments on Tuesday that the path of the economy is "highly uncertain."
"What everybody sees is if we can get something that puts an end to the spread or the spread becomes less, there is literally so much money out there that the Fed has put out there that when we turn, it is going to be a rocket ship the other way," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.
Still, comments from Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious diseases expert, who said there was no guarantee the United States will have an effective Covid-19 vaccine and warned the virus spread "could get very bad," were a reminder that a full economic recovery could be a long road.
Gains were capped on the Dow, pressured by a 5.75 percent drop in Boeing Co, as the aeroplane maker gave back some of Monday's 14 percent surge after Norwegian Air cancelled orders for 97 aircraft and said it would claim compensation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.85 percent to 25,812.88, the S&P 500 rose 1.54 percent to 3,100.29 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.87 percent to 10,058.77.
The 17.78 percent gain in the Dow marked its best quarterly performance since a 21.56 percent rally in the first quarter of 1987 while the Nasdaq's 30.63 percent jump was its best quarter since a 48.18 percent gain in the fourth quarter of 1999.
While coronavirus cases continue to surge in many states, the US economy is showing signs of pickup, with data indicating consumer confidence increased much more than expected in June.
Simmering US-China tensions also remained a possible headwind, with Washington beginning to eliminate Hong Kong's special status under US law in response to China's national security law for the territory. China said it would retaliate.
All of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors traded higher, with a 2.2 percent rise in energy stocks leading the pack. (Reuters)