Markets

Dow rallies more than 500 points, S&P 500 posts longest winning streak since February

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U.S. stocks edge higher on signs economy's recovering from coronavirus closures

Stocks rose sharply on Wednesday on the back of better-than-expected economic data, which bolstered optimism over the recovery from coronavirus-led shutdowns.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 527.24 points, or 2.1%, to close at 26,269.89. The S&P 500 gained 1.4% to end the day at 3,122.87 while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.8% to 9,682.91. Wednesday's gains led the Dow to a three-day winning streak while the S&P 500 notched its first four-day winning streak since early February. 

The Nasdaq 100 index, which tracks the 100-largest nonfinancial companies in the Nasdaq Composite, rose 0.5% to close 0.3% below a record set on Feb. 19. The index has rallied more than 43% from an intraday low set on March 23. Those gains have been provided in large part by stocks that benefited from people staying at home due to the coronavirus. The Invesco QQQ Trust — which tracks the Nasdaq 100 — closed 0.5% higher. 

Small caps outperformed their large-cap counterparts, with the Russell 2000 rallying 2.4%.

"We're seeing a risk-on trade again today," said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence, pointing out that small-cap stocks and the more cyclical sectors such as industrials were outperforming. "A lot of it has to do with the data. The market thinks the worst is behind us and the economy is going to turn around."

ADP and Moody's Analytics reported private payrolls fell by another 2.76 million in May. The ADP number was far less than the 8.75 million estimate. Data from the Institute for Supply Management showed the U.S. services sector contracted less than expected, rebounding from an 11-year trough

The S&P 500 is up more than 2% so far in June, bringing its gain from its pandemic low in March to more than 42%. 

"Equities are off to a very good start in June," said Gregory Faranello, head of U.S. rates trading at AmeriVet Securities, in a note. "Looking past some clear roadblocks, risk assets continue to move forward off the back of brighter days, reopening the economy and trillions in liquidity."

Data compiled by LPL Financial showed the S&P 500 posted its largest 50-day rally in history. The data also showed stocks were higher 100% of the time six and 12 months after the previous largest rallies on record. 

Stocks poised to benefit from the economy reopening rose broadly on Wednesday. American, Delta and United Airlines all gained more than 5.6%. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America also climbed at least 4.6% each.

Meanwhile, shares of companies that surged during stricter stay-at-home orders lagged. Amazon rose just 0.2% and Netflix slid 1.3%. Shopify dropped 2.4%.

Gold futures — a traditional safe haven for investors along with Treasurys — dropped more than 1% to settle at $1,704.80 per ounce. Treasury yields jumped, pushing prices lower. The 10-year Treasury yield traded more than 8 basis points higher at 0.75%. 

On Tuesday, stocks rose as optimism around reopening businesses overshadowed concerns about the global pandemic, U.S.-China trade tensions and nationwide protests.

"Despite several issues of importance — national riots, Chinese relations, an ongoing pandemic — the stock market is primarily focused on a single thing:  the restart of U.S. and global economic activities," Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, told CNBC. 

"The broader stock market (i.e., small cap stocks, cyclical sectors, international stock markets and emerging stock markets) is increasingly participating more pronouncedly in this rally suggesting the recession is ending," Paulsen added. 

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