Investors have been distracted by the presidential election all week; as of noon EST Friday, counting continued in key states. Yet market participants are also starting to take a look at other factors beyond the election results. After four straight days of big upward moves for the markets, Friday morning brought a more flattish performance.
However, earlier losses largely evaporated as major market benchmarks came close to the unchanged level by midday. As of just after 12:15 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 62 points to 28,328, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) eased lower by 2 points to 3,508. The Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) gave up 16 points to 11,875.
Earnings continued to play a role in supporting much of the stock market, and some of today's good news came from electronic-payments specialist Square (NYSE:SQ). Meanwhile, after a good day on Thursday, Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQ:ACB) positively soared on Friday amid comments that suggest some big new markets might open up for marijuana in the near future.
Hip to be Square
Total net revenue for Square soared 140% from year-ago levels, climbing above the $3 billion mark. More than half of that was attributable to bitcoin, as other revenue rose just 25%. Net income moved higher by 28% year over year.
Square was particularly pleased with several areas of its business. The Cash App ecosystem has done extremely well, with gross profit more than tripling from year-ago levels. Moreover, although the U.S. seller market continued to see headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic, international gross payment volume for sellers jumped by 46%.
People are doing a lot more of their financial transactions by electronic payments, and that plays to Square's strengths. Add in a bull market in bitcoin, and you've got the recipe for the kind of blowout quarter that Square just reported.
Aurora Cannabis shines brighter
The marijuana stock area has bounced big this week, and Friday brought some of the biggest gains of all. Aurora Cannabis in particular got a big push higher, with its stock skyrocketing more than 70% as of midday Friday.
For much of the week, investors in Aurora and other cannabis stocks have celebrated the passage of ballot measures supporting greater use of recreational and medical marijuana in key U.S. states. Late Thursday, for example, comments from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York state) laid open the prospect of legalizing marijuana in New York.
Cuomo's reasoning was a nod to financial reality at the state level. With states struggling in the aftermath of the pandemic, the governor believes that New York will have to legalize marijuana in pursuit of tax revenue to close budget shortfalls. The fact that neighboring New Jersey just approved pot could well have played a role in his comments as well.
To be clear, it'll take time for any New York legislation to move through the state government, and even then, Aurora in particular doesn't necessarily have the inside track to success in the Empire State. However, given how long marijuana stocks have suffered, it's not surprising to see investors hoping for a big turnaround from Aurora and its peers.