Stocks rise after two weeks of losses; Bitcoin up 13%

Stocks are broadly higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street Monday as investors regained an appetite for risk after the market notched two straight weeks of losses.

The S&P 500 index was up 1% as of 12:46 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 195 points, or 0.6%, to 34,403 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.4%.

Technology stocks were among the bigger gainers, particularly semiconductor companies. Nvidia and Micron both rose more than 3%. Communications stocks, like Facebook, and a variety of companies that rely on direct consumer spending also made solid gains. Sectors that are viewed as safer investments, like utilities, lagged the broader market.

Investors continue to watch for potential signs of inflation as the economic recovery continues in the waning days of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic.

Earnings season at this point is near its end and companies have been reporting strong results for the first quarter. That has helped reaffirm Wall Street’s view that the economic recovery is solid. It has also helped to justify some of the pricey stock values in several sectors, especially technology. Investors will get results from Dell and this week, among a few others.

"Now we realize there’s still some spectacular earnings growth and fundamentals coming from tech and communications and growth stocks in general," said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial.

There’s only a handful of economic reports this week, including monthly home sales. On Friday, investors will get another reading on inflation in the form of the Commerce Department’s personal consumption and expenditures index. "Core PCE," as it is known, is the preferred way Federal Reserve policymakers choose to measure inflation in the U.S. instead of the more widely known consumer price index that’s reported earlier in the month.

Economists surveyed by FactSet expect Core PCE to be up 3% from a year ago, which would be above the Federal Reserve’s targeted level for inflation.

"We all expect inflation to be going up because of year-over-year comparisons," Detrick said. "The number will be higher, but the question is will it be hotter than expected."

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.61% from 1.63% Friday.

Digital currencies like Bitcoin were volatile once again after plummeting over the last two weeks. Bitcoin rose 13% to around $38,000, according to Coindesk. It was worth nearly $65,000 a month ago.

Virgin Galactic jumped 18.4% after the company made its first rocket-powered flight from New Mexico to the fringe of space in a manned shuttle over the weekend.