From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.
The Dow and S&P 500 both hit record highs this week, with the S&P notching its third straight week of gains for its longest winning streak since last fall. The green arrows came largely from calmer bond yields combining with a tech sector that has regained its footing (more on that below). The story remains the same: rising vaccination rates and declining deaths and hospitalizations are making a strong argument that the U.S. economy is getting ready to rock -- though a worrying uptick in infections, scenes from a messy vaccination rollout in Europe, and catastrophic death tolls in places like Brazil are tempering some of that optimism. Still, the Fed reiterated this week that the policy measures in place to aid the pandemic recovery aren’t going anywhere, while the IMF predicted that America is set to lead the world in a post-COVID boom, estimating the U.S. economy will grow 6.4 percent in 2021, the fastest rate in decades. The IMF credited the rapid vaccine rollout in places like the U.S. for its new forecast, saying the end of the pandemic is “increasingly visible.”
Microsoft is poised to join Apple as the second American company worth $2 trillion, buoyed by the rise in tech stocks this week that gives the Redmond, Wash.-based company a market cap of $1.9 trillion as of Friday’s close. Microsoft shares have been soaring with the stock benefiting from perhaps the most diversified balance sheet in big tech: a healthy revenue split between cloud services like Azure, business products like Office and consumer hardware like Xbox, with the magic potion that is a recurring-revenue model sprinkled around. Facebook and Alphabet joined Microsoft in hitting record highs on Monday, the first day of trading after last Friday’s blowout jobs report, as investors are once again favoring growth stocks.
AMAZON UNION VOTE FAILS
Amazon has defeated a union drive at its Bessemer, Ala. fulfillment center, a closely watched unionization attempt that could have had major repercussions for not just Amazon, but competitors such as Walmart, as well as the state of organized labor in the U.S. The retail union that led the organizing effort is calling for a probe into Amazon’s conduct during the election, including a report that it improperly had a USPS ballot dropbox installed at the fulfillment center, however the union acknowledged the votes in question would not be enough to sway the outcome.
Shares of Tesla popped as much as 7 percent at the open on Monday after the company reported late last week that it delivered 184,800 vehicles in the first quarter, higher than analyst estimates of about 168,000. That beat the prior quarter’s record and had Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives calling the number a “paradigm changer” as he upgraded the stock to outperform on a new price target of $1,000. Later in the week, Tesla raised prices on the Model 3 and Model Y -- the fourth price change of the year -- amid reports that the automaker is facing production delays that could push deliveries back several weeks this quarter.
FAKE MEAT DEMAND
Beyond Meat has been trading sideways of late, ending the week more or less where it started despite several announcements that expand the plant-based meat company’s production and retail footprint. Beyond Meat said it inked new distribution deals with national chains including Target, Kroger, and Giant Foods to bring more of its products to the masses. The company also celebrated the opening of its first production facility in China, about a year after its products debuted in Chinese Starbucks. Separately, Reuters reported that rival Impossible Foods is in talks to go public at a valuation of at least $10 billion, either through an IPO or SPAC. Taken together, the news shows the growing consumer demand for plant-based meat alternatives.