U.S. stock-indexes were higher Wednesday afternoon, as data showing recovering consumer confidence and higher home prices helped offset ongoing concerns about the rising number of new coronavirus cases in many American states.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 index are set to put in their best quarterly performance in more than 20 years, while the Nasdaq Composite is having its best quarter since the 2001 dotcom crash, as the indexes recovered from the lows seen in late March when the coronavirus crisis forced business activity to grind to a halt.

The stock market will be closed on Friday in observance of the Fourth of July holiday.

How are benchmarks performing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.84%

was 34 points higher, or 0.2%, at 25,633, those for the S&P 500 index
SPX,
+1.54%

rose 29 points, or 1%, at 3,082, while the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
+1.87%

added 139 points, or 1.4%, at 10,013.

On Monday, the Dow gained 580.25 points, or 2.3%, its best one-day percentage climb since June 5, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The S&P 500 index advanced 44.19 points, or 1.5%, to finish at 3,053.24. The technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Indexpicked up 116.93 points, or 1.2%, to end at 9,874.15

What’s driving the market?

After a rally to start a holiday-shortened week, market participants were parsing joint testimony from Powell and Mnuchin about the U.S.’s economic response to the global public health disaster. The two are speaking in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

Recap: Mnuchin, Powell testify before House panel on coronavirus aid

Mnuchin said the Treasury and Fed were looking at extending the Fed’s established 11 emergency lending facilities, but also reiterated that additional types of COVID-19 aid likely will need to be addressed by Congress under the next phase of stimulus.

The Fed’s Powell stressed that the ‘overriding goal’ of the central bank’s facilities is to help get the roughly 25 million workers who lost jobs during the pandemic back to work, while also warning that the worst part of a second wave of COVID-19 infections would be if it undermines consumer confidence.

“While this bounce back in economic activity is welcome, it also presents new challenges—notably, the need to keep the virus in check,” Powell said.

The hearing was the first update of its kind as required by the $2 trillion relief package Congress approved in March, coming as the global tally for confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose to 10.3 million on Tuesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The number of deaths climbed to 505,518. Within the U.S., infections have climbed in 35 states over the past 14 days, according to a New York Times tracker, with California, Texas and Florida leading the way.

“The government’s inability to restrain public behavior, even through something as simple as ensuring mask compliance, is a dangerous threat to the economy of the U.S.,” said Eric Schiffer, chief executive officer of private-equity firm Patriarch Organization, in Beverly Hills. “It ensures this cycle of viral pain continues longer than it should,” he told MarketWatch.

Both New Jersey and New York, states that have been seeing a smaller rise in new cases, have said that they will be forced to delay aspects of their business reopening plans as the virus spreads elsewhere.

Ahead of that testimony, New York Fed President John Williams on Tuesday warned that the worst of the early days of the pandemic may be over, but noted that the economy remains damaged, at a virtual talk sponsored by the Institute of International Finance.

In a separate hearing Tuesday, public-health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the U.S. could see 100,00 new coronavirus infections a day in the U.S., unless everyone steps up their game. Speaking at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in Washington, D.C., Fauci said many states have reopened too quickly, and people are not abiding by rules of social distancing.

However in U.S. economic data, the Case-Shiller house price index rose 4% on an annual basis in April. Meanwhile, the index of consumer confidence rose to 98.1 this month from a revised 85.9 in May, the Conference Board said Tuesday, though the level of confidence still remains well below pre-crisis levels.

Separately, Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari is participating in a discussion on equality in the economy hosted by National Association of Business Economics.

Which stocks are in focus?
  • Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc.
    LULU,
    +6.00%

    gained 5.2% on news it will acquire at-home fitness company Mirror for $500 million.

  • Shares of Conagra Brands Inc. rose more than 5.7% on Tuesday after the owner of food brands, including Birds Eye and Healthy Choice, topped earnings estimates for its fiscal fourth quarter thanks to strong demand for at-home dining during the pandemic.
  • FedEx Corp.
    FDX,
    +4.12%

    is slated to report results after the close of trade Tuesday

  • Wells Fargo shares
    WFC,
    -0.50%

    fell 0.5% after the bank was one of the few major lenders to announce that it was cutting its dividends after bank stress tests conducted last week.

  • Papa John’s International Inc.
    PZZA,
    +1.31%

    said Tuesday that same-store sales for the five weeks ended June 28 at its North America restaurants rose 24.4% from a year ago, and rose 6.0% internationally, as demand continued to be strong amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its stock fell 0.3%.

  • Netlfix Inc.
    NFLX,
    +1.74%

    announced Tuesday an effort to grow economic opportunities for Black communities by allocating money to banks and other institutions that help provide financial support. Shares were up 2.1%.

  • Shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.
    INO,
    -14.95%

    tumbled 20.7% Tuesday after the company, without disclosing relevant data, said its COVID-19 vaccine candidate was considered safe and well-tolerated in all 40 of the participants in a Phase 1 clinical trial.

  • Tesla Inc.
    TSLA,
    +6.98%

    shares gained more than 7.4% on Tuesday, pushing the Silicon Valley car maker’s valuation above $200 billion, ahead of second-quarter sales numbers expected this week.

  • Shares of Uber Technologies Inc.
    UBER,
    +4.92%

    were up 4.7% following reports that the ride-hail service is close to a deal to buy privately held Postmates for about $2.6 billion.

How are other assets performing?

West Texas Intermediate U.S. crude
CLQ20,
-0.68%

for August delivery slipped 47 cents, or 1.2%, at $39.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In precious metals, gold futures
GCQ20,
+0.94%

shot up $16.80, or 1%, to trade at $1,798.10 an ounce.

The 10-year Treasury note yield
TMUBMUSD10Y,
0.654%

was 3 basis points higher at 0.66%. Bond prices move inversely to yields.

The greenback was down 0.2% against a basket of its major rivals, based on trading in the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
DXY,
-0.18%
.

In European equities, the Stoxx Europe 600 index
SXXP,
+0.12%

closed 0.1% higher and London’s FTSE 100
UKX,
-0.90%

fell 0.9%.

In Asian markets, the Japanese Nikkei
NIK,
+1.33%

gained 1.3%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng
HSI,
+0.51%

picked up 0.5%, while South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.7%. China’s CSI 300
000300,
+1.32%

rallied 1.3%, while the Shanghai Composite Index
SHCOMP,
+0.78%

advanced 0.8%.



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