More gains for Big Tech push stocks back to record highs

Stocks marched higher in early trading Thursday, helped by big technology companies that reported strong results overnight. Investors also cheered a report showing that the U.S. economy grew sharply in the first quarter, a sign that the economic impact of the pandemic may be easing.

The S&P 500 index was up 0.5% as of 10:05 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.3% as well.

Investors got a dose of big technology earnings overnight from the likes of Apple, Facebook, Qualcomm and others. Tech stocks drove much of the rally in 2020 and are still highly valued to investors, who are betting that the pandemic made a permanent shift in how Americans shopped and entertained themselves.

Apple rose 1%. Demand for the iPhone and other Apple products drove profits to more than double in the January-March period. The results were significantly better than what analysts had predicted.

Facebook jumped 7% after the social media giant reported stronger-than-expected results for the first quarter thanks to soaring ad revenue.

On the economic front, the Commerce Department said that the U.S. economy grew at a brisk 6.4% annual rate in the last quarter. That acceleration is expected to increase through the summer as more vaccinations are administered and COVID-19 cases continue to fall. Meanwhile the Labor Department said the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits fell again last week.

In his speech Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden ticked off details of some of his plan for $1.8 trillion in spending to expand preschool, create a national family and medical leave program, distribute child care subsidies and more.

The plan comes on top of his proposal for $2.3 trillion in spending to rebuild roads and bridges, expand broadband access and launch other infrastructure projects.

The strong economic reports bond yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.68% from 1.62% the day before.