S&P 500 record close relegates COVID-19 sell-off to history books

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 index closed at an all-time high on Tuesday, completing its recovery from the stock market crash after the onset of the coronavirus crisis in February.

The index ended at 3,389.78 points, above the previous record close of 3,386.15 on Feb 19. Earlier it topped the old intraday high of 3,393.52 hit the same day, further underlining the disconnect between a rally driven by trillions of dollars in government stimulus and a recession-hit U.S. economy.

The record confirms, according to a widely accepted definition, that Wall Street’s most closely followed index entered a bull market after hitting its pandemic low on March 23. It has surged about 55% since then. It makes the bear market that started in late February the S&P 500’s shortest ever.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite .IXIC in June was the first of the three major U.S. stock indexes to reclaim record highs as investors gravitated to stocks including (AMZN.O) and Netflix (NFLX.O) seen as stay-at-home winners from COVID-19 lockdowns.

It has taken the benchmark S&P 500 about two months longer as surging COVID-19 cases sparked fears of another round of shutdowns that would again cripple business activity and crush U.S. corporate earnings.

On the day, the S&P 500 gained 0.23%. The Nasdaq gained 0.73%, hitting another high, and the Dow Jones Industrials, which is still about 6% below its February highs, slipped 0.24%.

Of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors, the technology index .SPLRCT, which includes Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), has climbed about 25% this year, while the consumer discretionary .SPLRCD index, which includes Amazon, has jumped 23%.

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