Investors have largely shrugged off their concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, instead trying to keep their eyes on the long-term prospects for growth across the U.S. and global economy. Moreover, with vaccines apparently on their way, many hope that they'll be able to wait out the pandemic. Yet California's decision to impose curfews for a month threw cold water on many of those hopes and sent many parts of the market lower. As of 11:30 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 122 points to 29,361, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) fell 7 points to 3,575. Once again, though, the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) bucked the trend with a modest 21-point gain to 11,926.
Among individual stocks, there were plenty of winners. In the red-hot electric-vehicle market, XPeng (NYSE:XPEV) showed off its latest vehicle and features at a trade show in China. Meanwhile, Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK) picked up steam as investors once again saw the potential value of collaboration software for help in managing remote workforces.
New bling for XPeng
Shares of XPeng were up 10% on Friday morning. In addition to continued excitement over electric vehicle stocks generally, XPeng also got some attention after unveiling some interesting products and services in Guangzhou.
XPeng presented its P7 Wing vehicle at the auto show, a limited edition of its P7 super-long range sports sedan. The vehicle includes all the features of the regular P7, but it has upward-opening scissor-style doors that you'd typically find only on luxury sports vehicles. It also includes personalized features and carries a price tag in China of around $56,000 to $62,000.
Perhaps more importantly, XPeng will become the first automaker to implement laser-based Lidar technology in its autonomous driving software and hardware systems for the 2021 production year. The company said that Lidar will be a breakthrough in next-generation autonomous driving, dramatically improving the performance of the system's high-precision object recognition.
Increasingly, investors in EV automakers are realizing that the real value in companies might well come from their technological advances in autonomous driving and AI rather than in the vehicles themselves. That could be a big part of what will drive stock prices of XPeng and its peers in the future.
Working for the weekend
Elsewhere, Slack's stock price rose nearly 7% Friday morning. The workplace collaboration software platform provider got a leg up due to new worries about the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the stock has generally been quite volatile and hasn't seen the huge gains that some of its peers have had during 2020.
When the latest coronavirus vaccine news came out, many analysts started to question whether the work-from-home trend would continue to support stocks like Slack. Plenty of companies use Slack in their office-based operations, but the need for such software has been greater since so many businesses have turned to working from remote locations.
Today's gains reflect nervousness about whether an extended period of remote work could prove necessary. Yet that still leaves unanswered some questions about potential competition. With video-based systems gaining a lot of traction, and with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) having the inside track with its Teams product being integrated in its broader software suite, Slack still has some obstacles to overcome.
It's good to see stocks rising even in a choppy market. It's always smart, though, to look closely at the fundamentals beyond whatever's motivating a daily rise. That can give you far greater insight in making a smart investment decision.