• US stocks fluctuated on Monday as traders weighed the ongoing economic recovery against climbing COVID-19 cases and lingering US-China tensions.
  • The benchmark S&P 500 remains on pace for its best August since 1984.
  • By comparison, the JSE stayed flat for the month. 
  • Apple and Tesla gained after both underwent stock splits.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

US stocks traded mixed on on Monday as traders weighed the ongoing economic recovery against climbing COVID-19 cases and lingering US-China tensions. The S&P 500 remained on pace for its best August since 1984.

The gains come after both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite index notched multiple record highs last week amid encouraging consumer spending data and a shift in monetary policy from the Federal Reserve that will likely keep interest rates low for some time. 

"Jerome Powell's soothing tones are continuing to provide that calming reassurance for investors, even as we head into what could be a rollercoaster ride in the final months of the year," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe in a Monday note. "Investors as ever are optimistic.

In South Africa, the JSE's all-share index fell by a percent to 55,476 points. The local market gained only 0.6% over the month.

Telkom slumped 8%, while Sappi (-6.4%), Nedcor (-6%) and Growthpoint (-5.5%) also had a torrid day.

Here's where US indexes stood shortly after the market open on Monday:

Two major stock splits took effect on Monday. Shares of Apple rose after undergoing a 4-for-1 stock split, while Tesla also climbed after its 5-for-1 split. 

Abroad, Nikkei 225 stocks rose in Japan, boosted after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced Sunday that it bought stakes in five of the country's largest trading companies. The announcement came on Buffett's 90th birthday.

Despite major indexes sitting near record highs, investors are still looking for signs of progress around further economic stimulus. In September, Congress returns from its August recess and could restart talks on the next stimulus pacakge, which stalled as Democrats and Republicans reached a gridlock on the details of the bill.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases continue to climb in the US, providing an overhang to markets. Tensions between the US and China also remain high. On Friday, Beijing claimed it could block the sale of TikTok to potential buyers such as Microsoft, Walmart, and Oracle.

West Texas Intermediate oil gained as much as 1.4%, to $43.57 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose 3.3%, to $46.53, at intraday highs. 

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