U.S. equities closed higher on Monday as a weekend filled with geopolitical worries ended more calmly than investors expected, while bank stocks charged ahead.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed more than 180 points higher as Boeing and Goldman Sachs contributed the most gains on the 30-stock index.
The S&P 500 gained 0.86 percent, with financials leading advancers. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) rose more than half a percent after the top two Wells Fargo executives bought $5 million worth of Wells stock.
The Nasdaq composite closed up 0.8 percent.
“I think this is a relief rally,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. “Are out of the woods? No. I still think we’re in the midst of a pullback” given geopolitical conditions.
U.S. stocks also rose higher on Monday after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Financial Times that Republicans could complete tax reform without incorporating the border adjustment tax.
The SPDR S&P Retail ETF rose more than 1 percent, led by Rent-A-Center up almost 6 percent.
Vice President Mike Pence said the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea was over.
Pence made the comments on the border between North and South Korea a day after North Korea’s failed missile test. The Trump administration is working with China and its allies on a response to North Korea’s missile program.
“The fact that Pence was able to go there and come out unharmed led some bulls back into the market,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO of 50 Park Investments. “This is a combination of relief in financial markets and the geopolitical front.”
James Smigiel, managing director at SEI, said the rise in stocks may be a byproduct of low trading volumes after the Easter holiday. “I think it’s somewhat counter-intuitive that we’re up this much,” he said. “We didn’t get anything good today, … yet the market keeps on finding reasons to trade up.
The benchmark 10-year note yield hit its lowest level since Nov. 17 before bouncing back to trade around 2.23 percent. Gold futures, which had been a popular trade over the past week, also traded off its session highs.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded about 8 percent lower near 15. The index briefly broke above 16 last week.
Investors went home on Thursday on edge after the U.S. dropped “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan. The U.S. used GBU-43 bomb on a cave complex believed to have ISIS fighters.
Meanwhile, earnings season was set to kick into full gear this week, with Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and eBay, among others, set to report this week. Netflix was also set to report Monday after the close.
Investors have high hopes for first-quarter earnings, with Wall Street expecting the best season since 2011. But it’s the second-quarter guidance that has Nick Raich of The Earnings Scout worried.
In a Monday note, The Earnings Scout’s CEO said that just six of the 29 S&P 500 components that had reported also raised their second-quarter estimates, while 18 lowered them.
“It remains highly likely that 2Q 2017 EPS estimates will go lower as more companies report and this week, there will be 69 more companies in the S&P 500 reporting,” Raich said.
In economic news, the Empire State index hit 5.2 in April, well below the 16.4 print reached in March. The NAHB survey showed sentiment among homebuilders slipped.
The so-called hard economic data have softened recently. On Friday, the Labor Department said the consumer prices index — a key gauge of inflation — posted its biggest drop in more than two years in March, while the Commerce Department said retail sales dropped more than expected last month.
In turn, market expectations for a Federal Reserve rate hike in June have slipped. But writing off tighter monetary policy — even near term — might be premature, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.
“It’s going to take a lot for the Fed to pull back from its path tonormalization,” she said. “I think the Fed will tolerate more weakness” before deviating from its path.
Investors also focused on the outcome of France’s presidential election. Polls suggest a growing number of voters are turning away from mainstream parties, according to Reuters.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 183 points higher, or 0.9 percent, to 20,636, with Boeing leading advancers and Exxon Mobil the top decliner.
The S&P 500 gained 20 points, or 0.86 percent, to 2,349, with financials leading all 11 sectors higher.
The Nasdaq advanced 51 points, or 0.89 percent, to trade at 5,856.
About two stocks advanced for every decliner at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 703 million and a composite volume of 2.806 billion in afternoon trade.
On tap this week:
4:00 p.m. TIC data
8:30 a.m. Housing starts
8:30 a.m. Business leaders survey
9:15 a.m. Industrial production
2:00 p.m. Beige book
Earnings: Travelers, Verizon, Blackstone, Philip Morris, ABB, Bank of NY Mellon, Alliance Data, PPG Industries, Imax, MGIC Investment, KeyCorp, Nucor, Janus, Visa, Sonoco Products, Sherwin-Williams, Mattel, NCR, Danaher
8:30 a.m. Weekly claims
8:30 a.m. Philadelphia Fed
9:45 a.m. Manufacturing PMI
10:00 a.m. Existing home sales