Market Update: U.S. Stocks Rise Ahead of Major Tech Earnings; Bitcoin Leads Crypto Market Higher

U.S. stocks finished mostly higher Monday, though gains were largely concentrated in banks and technology companies ahead of a slew of corporate earnings throughout the week.

Stocks Inch Higher

The large-cap S&P 500 Index rose 0.2% to close at 2,806.98, snapping a two-day skid. However, only four of 11 primary sectors finished higher, with financials shares rising 1.4%. Technology stocks rose 0.5%.

A strong performance in IT drove the Nasdaq Composite Index higher. The tech-driven index added 0.3% to 7,841.87, which is roughly 12 points shy of a record high.

Dow industrials traded around break-even for most of the day before settling 0.1% lower at 25,044.97.

Volatility showed little signs of returning on Monday, as earnings optimism kept investor anxiety to a minimum. The CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the VIX, traded within a narrow range before closing at 12.72. The gauge was little change compared with Friday.

Corporate Earnings In Focus

On the earnings front, Google-parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) reported quarterly results after the bell on Monday. The company posted a 9.3% drop in second-quarter earnings, which included a $5 billion antitrust charge to cover a fine by the European Union.

Facebook Inc. (FB) and Amazon Inc. (AMZN) are scheduled to report later in the week.

Technology stocks continue to be Wall Street’s best performers of 2018, rising 15.4% as of Monday. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index has returned less than 5% since the year began.

By Friday’s close, some 17% of S&P 500 companies had reported second-quarter results, according to FactSet, a financial data provider. Among them, 87% had reported positive earnings surprises and 77% posted earnings that were higher than expected.

Despite the strong performance, Wall Street analysts have yet to raise their Q3 earnings estimate. According to Nicholas Colas of DataTrek Research, third-quarter estimates are in fact marginally lower than at the end of June.

In addition to earnings, equity investors will be looking to Q2 GDP data on Friday for clues about the health of the economic recovery. U.S. gross domestic product likely grew 4.1% year-over-year, according to a median estimate of economists.

Bitcoin’s Extends Rally

After a quiet weekend, bitcoin was back on the offensive Monday thanks to a combination of technical and fundamental drivers. The largest cryptocurrency by market cap peaked near $7,800, its highest in two months. At the time of writing, BTC/USD was valued at $7,753, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin’s price is growing both in absolute terms and relative to other cryptocurrencies. As Hacked reported earlier, bitcoin’s share of the overall crypto market has risen to 46%, its highest since December.

The cryptocurrency market peaked above $290 billion on Monday, though gains were almost entirely concentrated in the bitcoin price. Bitcoin was the only gainer in the top-ten, with the other major altcoins falling between 0.6% and 4.5%.