The stock market finished February with a pullback, but all signs of pessimism were completely gone from Wall Street as March began. Huge gains for all three major market benchmarks came after a series of bullish news stories, including favorable comments about the stock market from Warren Buffett, progress toward another coronavirus stimulus measure in Washington, and ongoing signs of a return to more-normal economic and living conditions in the U.S. and around the world.
As of 12:30 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.35%) was up 642 points to 31,574. The S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.59%) climbed 88 points to 3,899, and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.83%) rose 333 points to 13,525.
Tech stocks have gotten a lot of attention lately, but among today's biggest winners were three old-economy stocks. It's uncertain just how far their rallies might take them, but they stand as a testament that many investors are still paying attention to companies that aren't necessarily on the cutting edge of innovation.
General Electric (GE 1.31%) was on the move Monday, rising nearly 6%. The industrial giant was able to move higher despite a problem with an engine control sensor on a Russian cargo plane using GE engines.
General Electric finally appears to be getting itself back on track. For much of the past decade, the conglomerate has been a mess, with various executives trying and failing to make strategic shifts to keep up with changes in the many industries GE serves. Yet more recently, the company has cut back on debt, sold off noncore businesses, and looked to focus on its best opportunities.
Specifically, GE shareholders are hopeful that the key aviation unit can return to profitability, while long-term plays in renewable energy start to pay off. On a great day for the market, even beaten-down players like General Electric can inspire some optimism from value investors.
On a related note, Boeing (BA -2.57%) climbed 5%. The aerospace giant has been fighting to maintain altitude for much of the past two years, but things are finally now moving in the right direction.
The one-two punch of the grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft two years ago and the pandemic last year brought Boeing to its knees, with a huge drop in its stock price. Now, though, the 737 MAX is back in the air, and airlines are even starting to make new orders as they anticipate a recovery for their ailing industry.
Add to that Boeing's huge position in the booming space sector, and it's easy to understand why investors are getting bullish on the aerospace giant. Boeing still has further to go, but a forward-looking market isn't wasting any time climbing on board.
ExxonMobil (XOM -0.61%) picked up almost 5% on Monday. After a harsh time for energy markets, there's light at the end of the tunnel, and the oil giant also appears to be making progress in other directions.
Crude oil prices were depressed throughout 2020, even turning negative briefly during the worst of the pandemic. But this year, they've moved back above $60 per barrel, and that level is adequate to make much of the production in the industry more economically viable.
More important for the long run, ExxonMobil added activist investor Jeff Ubben to its board of directors Monday. Ubben is a hedge fund manager with a reputation for being conscious of climate change and other environmental, social, and governance issues. For a company that's gotten a lot of criticism for its continued emphasis on carbon-emitting fossil fuels, the move signals a potential change that could help ExxonMobil catch up to other oil companies that have been faster in making the shift.
Old but good
There's been a lot of emphasis on brand-new high-growth stocks in the market in recent years. But there's also room for existing giants to find new opportunities. Today's moves show that ExxonMobil, Boeing, and GE are all capable of finding ways to keep their businesses growing for the benefit of shareholders.