Chip, growth stocks send S&P 500, Nasdaq to records as Dow lags

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose to record intraday highs on Thursday as chipmaker stocks surged following Qualcomm’s strong financial forecast and investors digested the Federal Reserve’s decision to start reducing its monthly bond purchases.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped from an all-time closing high hit on Wednesday, dragged down by shares of banks JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group.

Financials were the weakest S&P 500 sector, falling 1.8%, as U.S. Treasury yields fell, with the market unwinding expectations of quicker Fed rate hikes a day after the central bank signaled it was in no hurry to do so.

“The growth side of the market is seeing more positive results today as they are benefiting from the falling yields that are developing,” said Matthew Miskin, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management.

“The market had been positioning for higher yields in general given the Fed announcement of tapering. As we walked in today, there has been a reversal in that.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 102.43 points, or 0.28%, to 36,055.15, the S&P 500 gained 15.01 points, or 0.32%, to 4,675.58 and the Nasdaq Composite added 135.94 points, or 0.86%, to 15,947.52.

The S&P 500 growth index rose 1.2% while the S&P 500 value index fell 0.7%.

Among sectors, the consumer discretionary sector led the way, rising 1.8%, with tech up 1.5%.

Qualcomm shares jumped 14% as the company forecast better-than-expected profits and revenue for its current quarter on soaring demand for chips used in phones, cars and other internet-connected devices.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index climbed about 3%, with Nvidia soaring about 14% and giving the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

Better-than-expected third-quarter earnings have helped lift sentiment for equities. With about 420 companies having reported, S&P 500 earnings are expected to have climbed 41.2% in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv IBES.

In company news, Electronic Arts Inc and rival Take-Two Interactive Software Inc gained 2.4% and 3.3%, respectively, after they boosted their 2021 adjusted sales forecasts on strong gaming boom.

Moderna shares tumbled 18% as the company slashed the 2021 sales forecast for its COVID-19 vaccine by as much as $5 billion, grappling to fill vials and distribute them to meet unprecedented world demand. Moderna shares weighed on the S&P 500 healthcare sector, which fell 1.3%.

Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly 20 months last week, suggesting the economy was regaining momentum. Investors will get a critical view of the economy with the monthly jobs report on Friday.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.34-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 71 new 52-week highs and five new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 196 new highs and 31 new lows.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York, Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Marguerita Choy)