NASDAQ surges, but uncertainty nags

ERRATIC:
The trading session was choppy, with each major index up and down. The Dow Jones dropped by more than 1 percent at one point, but gained 0.44% overall

  • Reuters, NEW YORK

The NASDAQ on Friday jumped more than 1 percent, powered by strong earnings from some of the largest US companies, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 finished with smaller gains as uncertainty about the government’s next round of COVID-19 aid kept economic worries on the radar.

Apple Inc shares surged 10.5 percent to close at a record US$425.04 in the wake of blowout quarterly results and a four-for-one stock split announcement.

Amazon.com Inc gained 3.7 percent after posting its biggest profit ever, while Facebook Inc jumped 8.2 percent after the social media platform blew past revenue expectations.

Photo:EPA-EFE

Google parent Alphabet Inc fell 3.3 percent though, the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ, as it posted the first quarterly sales dip in its 16 years as a public company.

“The results were just fabulous, just so strong,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. “These are extremely profitable companies and they produce products that people want.”

The four companies are among the top five in market capitalization, representing about 20 percent of the S&P 500’s total.

Apple’s gain pushed it ahead of Saudi Arabian Oil Co as the world’s most valuable public company, Refinitiv data showed.

The White House and the Democrats were still negotiating relief aid for the COVID-19 pandemic, but were not yet on a path toward reaching a deal, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, hours before a federal unemployment benefit expired.

“It seems like they are far apart and supposedly they are working at it and there is a lot of name calling, and as usual, there is a lot of bad blood between these two parties and they have to come to some compromise, clearly, but they are not there, that’s for sure,” Ghriskey said.

The Dow Jones rose 114.67 points, or 0.44 percent, to 26,428.32, the S&P 500 gained 24.9 points, or 0.77 percent, to 3,271.12 and the NASDAQ Composite added 157.46 points, or 1.49 percent, to 10,745.27.

It was a choppy session with each major index up and down. The Dow at one point fell more than 1 percent.

In late trade, stocks moved higher into the close as Microsoft Corp shares pared losses of more than 2 percent after reports the company was said to be in talks to buy video app TikTok.

Kansas City Southern also provided a late boost, ending the session 9.7 percent higher after the Wall Street Journal reported a group of buyout investors were considering a takeover bid for the rail operator.

The benchmark index is now about 3.4 percent shy of its February all-time high, but faltering macroeconomic data and rising COVID-19 cases in the US were making investors cautious again.

Still, the S&P notched its fourth weekly gain in the past five weeks and saw a fourth straight month of gains, with a lift from massive fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to buttress the US economy.

For the week, the S&P gained 1.73 percent, the Dow shed 0.16 percent and the NASDAQ climbed 3.69 percent. For the month, the S&P rose 5.52 percent, the Dow advanced 2.39 percent and the NASDAQ rallied 6.83 percent.

Energy stocks were the worst performing among the 11 major S&P sectors after Chevron Corp reported a US$8.3 billion loss on asset writedowns and ExxonMobil Corp recorded a second consecutive quarterly loss.

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