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S&P 500 ekes out a small gain in light trading, boosted by reopening plays

U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday as shares tied to the economic reopening supported the broader market once again.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 79 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.3%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.6%. The S&P 500 sits just about 0.9% from a record with the major benchmark little changed for the month of May.

Shares of companies linked to a recovering economy gained. Carnival Corp rose about 2.5%. Royal Caribbean jumped 3.5% and brought its gain this week to 11% after the cruise line operator received approval to begin test cruises with volunteer passengers.

The optimism on the economy comes as U.S. average daily Covid cases fall below 25,000 and as nearly half the U.S. population has received at least one vaccination dose.

Shares of Ford rose more than 8% after the automobile giant said it is increasing its investment in electric vehicles to $30 billion through 2025.

“We continue to look for a strong recovery in economic growth in 2021, with low interest rates and moderate increases in inflation,” said Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo. “This backdrop should favor most equity markets globally, and especially those markets and sectors most closely correlated with economic growth.”

Bitcoin continued its comeback, helping risk sentiment in the financial markets. Bitcoin climbed back above $40,000 on Wednesday, according to Coin Metrics. On May 19, the cryptocurrency hit a low of $30,001.51 following an intraday crash of 30%. Shares of Tesla, a big holder of bitcoin, added 2%. Coinbase shares were also higher.

Nordstrom shares dropped about 6% after the company missed the Street’s first-quarter earnings expectations, while shares of Urban Outfitters jumped more than 7% following better-than-expected quarterly results.

Investors kept an eye on Washington and any developments on an infrastructure compromise that could boost the economy further. Senate Republicans plan to send President Joe Biden a counteroffer this week that costs nearly $1 trillion.

Meanwhile, chief executives of the country’s largest banks — including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — are testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday.

Wednesday also marked the 125th birthday for the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average, which debuted more than a century ago with 12 members. Its best year occurred in 1915 when the benchmark rallied 81.7%, while 1931 marked its worst year with a 52.7% loss.

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