Wall Street capped its best quarter since 1998 Tuesday with more gains, a fitting end to a stunning three months for investors as the market screamed back toward its record heights after a torrid plunge.
The S&P 500 climbed 1.5%, bringing its gain for the quarter to nearly 20%. That rebound followed a 20% drop in the first three months of the year, the market’s worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis. The plunge came as the coronavirus pandemic ground the economy to a halt and millions of people lost their jobs.
“It’s the first time you’ve had back-to-back (quarters) like this since the 1930s,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. “It’s pretty unprecedented.”
The whiplash that ripped through markets in the second quarter came as investors became increasingly hopeful that the economy can pull out of its severe, sudden recession relatively quickly. The hopes looked prescient after reports during the quarter showed that the job market swung back to growth and retail sales rebounded as governments relaxed lockdown orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The S&P 500 gained 47.05 points to 3,100.29 on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 217.08 points, or 0.9%, to 25,812.88. It had briefly been down 120 points. The Nasdaq composite climbed 184.61 points, or 1.9%, to 10,058.77.
The S&P 500 has rallied back to within nearly 8.4% of its record set in February, after being down nearly 34% in late March. At one point earlier this month, it had climbed as close as 4.5%.
A barrel of U.S. crude oil slid 43 cents to settle at $39.27 Tuesday, but it’s still nearly double where it was at the end of the first quarter. It’s also in a different world from April, when prices in one corner of the U.S. crude market briefly went below zero amid worries that collapsing demand would leave nowhere to store all the unused oil.