Stocks opened higher on Wednesday, following a session in which investors momentarily cast aside their fears that a resurgence of COVID-19 cases might derail a red-hot economic recovery, as strong earnings provided a ballast to beaten-down markets.
A batch of encouraging second-quarter earnings on Wednesday from industry bellwethers Coca-Cola (KO), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Verizon (VZ) gave investors reason to focus on the fundamentals. All three companies topped market expectations, converging with sentiment that drove Tuesday’s rally.
JNJ topped estimates, but forecast a slim $2.5 billion in 2021 sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, which has sandbagged by safety concerns and production issues.
In addition, Netflix (NFLX) and Chipotle (CMG) both posted strong Q2 results. The streaming giant beat analysts’ expectations for new subscribers in the quarter, but fell short of the target for estimates for Q3. Netflix also pulled back more of the curtain on its plans to break into the gaming market.
Chipotle also impressed Wall Street by smashing estimates during the quarter, thanks to the mass return of customers after COVID-19 restrictions, and ongoing strength in digital sales.
The week started out with major benchmarks suffering their worst declines of 2021, which took the spotlight from quarterly earnings that have almost uniformly reflected a strong rebound. The rising case count driven by the Delta variant — a more communicable form of COVID-19 — pushed the Dow (^DJI), Nasdaq (^IXIC) and S&P 500 (^GSPC) to their biggest drop in months.