Nasdaq rises as major tech stocks Apple and Microsoft hit record highs, S&P 500 falls slightly

The Nasdaq Composite rose on Tuesday, recovering from a decline earlier in the session, as shares of major tech companies such as Microsoft and Apple outperformed. 

The tech-heavy index gained 0.3% and was on pace to notch a record closing high. Microsoft shares gained 1.6% to hit an all-time high. Apple also reached record levels, climbing 1.2%. Facebook and Netflix gained 2.9% and 1%, respectively, to trade at all-time highs as well. 

“It’s the same group of stocks that lead us higher almost on a daily basis,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities. “The rest of the market follows, but it’s certainly nowhere near as strong as that group.”

Positive news on the coronavirus front also gave the Nasdaq a boost. The U.S. government awarded drugmaker Novavax a $1.6 billion contract to develop a coronavirus vaccine, the biggest amount yet granted under the White House’s “Operation Warp Speed.” Novavax shares were up 34%.

But the broader market struggled. The S&P 500 traded 0.2% lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 133 points, or 0.8%.

Market sentiment was kept in check as stocks tied to the economy reopening from the coronavirus shutdowns were lower. Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp were lower by about 2% each. American Airlines and United Airlines both fell more than 2%.

Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic also told The Financial Times the U.S. economic recovery will be “bumpier” as coronavirus cases continue to rise. 

Tuesday’s action followed a strong day on Wall Street that saw the Dow jump more than 450 points as investors continued to shrug off a continuous rise in coronavirus cases across the U.S. 

The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 grew by 5% or more Sunday in 23 states, including Texas, which reported a record of more than 8,000 hospitalizations on Sunday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday asked six additional counties to close their indoor businesses.

“While we expect continued volatility, we think there are grounds for optimism that economies and markets can weather the recent acceleration in infections,” Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS, said in a note. “There are signs that healthcare systems are coping better with COVID-19, reducing the need for restrictions on freedom of movement. Economic data continues to point to resilience.”

The Labor Department released Tuesday its latest report on U.S. job openings, which showed them growing to 5.4 million in May. The government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey is a month behind the more closely followed nonfarm payrolls report, which showed a surge of 4.8 million in June and a 2.7 million jump in May.

Correction: Fixes the release time for the Labor Department’s job openings data.

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