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Contracts on the S&P 500 gained about 0.3% with two hours until the opening bell, after the blue-chip index reached a record high during Wednesday's regular session and closed out its best monthly gain since November. Nasdaq futures advanced, building on gains after technology stocks lifted the index higher by more than 1.5% on Wednesday. In early trading, shares of electric-vehicle stocks including Workhorse Group (WKHS) and Plug Power (PLUG) increased after President Joe Biden discussed the details of his more than $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which would include building out half a million EV charging stations.
Thursday's session marks the first of the second quarter and of April. Historically, the month has been fortuitous for equities. Stocks have closed April higher in 14 out of the past 15 years, and since 1950, it has been the second best month for stocks, according to an analysis by Ryan Detrick, LPL Financial chief market strategist.
Heading into the second quarter, stock leadership has tilted strongly in favor of cyclical and value stocks, which have earnings most closely tethered to the broad-based reopening of business across the U.S. economy. The energy, financials and industrials sectors have outperformed in the S&P 500 for the year-to-date, while last year's winners – like the information technology and communication services sectors – have lagged by comparison. Many analysts think this trend will continue into the coming months.
"I think we’re going to see more of the same in terms of market leadership. This is an environment in which the economy is likely to accelerate,” Kristina Hooper, Invesco chief global market strategist, told Yahoo Finance. “And I think that means that we’ll see continued outperformance of areas like energy, like financials, like consumer discretionary, material, industrials — those areas of the stock market that are most sensitive to the economy.”
"I think the really big news is that we’re at a really big tipping point right now. We’re out of the pandemic, or getting out of the pandemic. There’s a gargantuan change in how our economy’s going to be run with the stimulus plan as well as the Build Back Better plan,” Stephen Dover, Franklin Templeton head of equities, told Yahoo Finance, referring to President Joe Biden's recently unveiled, multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal. “So I think investors are going to have to look very differently looking forward than they have been looking in the past.”
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