October 20, 2021

U.S. stocks rallied Thursday after better-than-expected earnings reports from Walgreens Boots Alliance, UnitedHealth, Bank of America and other major companies.

The Dow Jones Industrials flew 534.75 points, or 1.6%, to 34,912.56.

The S&P 500 jumped 74.76 points, or 1.7%, to 4,438.26.

The NASDAQ Composite rumbled 251.79 points, or 1.7%, to 14,823.43.

The three averages are now on track to close the week higher, with the S&P 500 and the Dow roughly 2% off their record highs and the NASDAQ about 4% behind.

Third-quarter earnings season continued Thursday with several big banks and Dow members reporting financial results before the bell.

Walgreens was the top performer in the Dow and S&P 500, rallying 7.4% after the drugstore chain beat earnings expectations. The company announced it would become majority owner of primary-care company VillageMD with a $5.2 billion investment and make health care its growth engine.

Dow constituent UnitedHealth also popped 4.2% after the company’s quarterly results topped estimates.

Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup saw their shares rise 4.5%, 2.5% and 0.8% respectively, after beating earnings expectations. Wells Fargo shares declined 1.6% despite an earnings beat.

Meanwhile, falling rates boosted technology stocks. The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yield dipped, typically benefiting high-growth names as lower rates lift the value of companies’ future earnings.

Big Tech stocks Microsoft, Apple and Google-parent Alphabet each gained at least 2%, providing the market with support.

Caterpillar was among the Dow’s biggest gainers after Cowen initiated coverage of the equipment maker with an outperform rating. UPS rose after an upgrade from Stifel, which cited upcoming holiday demand.

A lower-than-anticipated number of weekly jobless claims added to the positive market sentiment. Initial unemployment insurance claims last week totaled 293,000 – the first time the tally fell below the 300,000 level during the pandemic-era.

September’s producer price index was lighter than expected, also helping sentiment. Wholesale prices rose 0.5% from the month prior versus the 0.6% Dow Jones estimate.

Prices for 10-year Treasurys gained, lowering yields to 1.51% from Wednesday’s 1.54%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices regrouped 99 cents to $81.43 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices added $3.70 to $1,798.40 U.S. an ounce.

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