Stocks open lower, still head for 3rd straight monthly gain

Stocks were moderately lower in early morning trading on Friday, pulled down by technology and communications stocks. Despite the decline, the market is on pace for its best month so far this year, as investors remain optimistic that the pandemic is slowly and steadily coming to a close.

The S&P 500 was down 0.4% as of 10:05 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.3% and the Nasdaq was also down 0.3%. With the exception of the Dow, the other two indexes are on pace for modest gains this week.

At this rate the S&P 500 is on track for its best month since November 2020, when President Joe Biden was elected. The benchmark index is up 5.6% this month, helped mostly by signs that large-scale coronavirus vaccination programs are helping people return to jobs and normal behaviors after more than a year of restrictions.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the U.S. economy grew at a brisk 6.4% annual rate in the last quarter and is likely to accelerate further as more vaccinations are administered and COVID-19 cases continue to fall.

There’s also the trillions of dollars in government support that has gone out to help the U.S. economy recover from the pandemic. The Commerce Department said U.S. household incomes surged 21% last month, driven largely by the $1,400 payments that went out to most Americans as part of President Biden’s economic package.

Investors have also gotten strong corporate earnings which have helped justify higher stock prices. Amazon rose 2% after the e-commerce giant reported that its profits more than tripled in the latest quarter.

Investors will get another big dose of earnings reports next week, including results from drugmakers Eli Lilly, Merck as well as Pepsi, Colgate-Palmolive, the railroad CSX and drugstore giant CVS. Investors will also get April’s jobs report next week.