Nasdaq closes above 16,000 for the first time; Dow down again

By David French

© Reuters/Brendan McDermid FILE PHOTO: People are seen on Wall Street outside the NYSE in New York

(Reuters) – The Nasdaq Composite Index closed above 16,000 points for the first time on Friday, in its second-straight record finish powered by technology stocks, while pandemic jitters sent the Dow to its fourth losing session in the last five.

© Reuters/Brendan McDermid FILE PHOTO: The Nasdaq logo is displayed at the Nasdaq Market site in New York

Both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 index scored a winning week, up 1.2% and 0.3% respectively, after last week’s declines snapped a five-week run of higher finishes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s second-successive weekly loss – this one of 1.4% – wiped out the last of its November gains, extending the index’s drop from a Nov. 8 record high to 2.3%.

Friday’s fall was caused by banking, energy and airline stocks slumping on fears that European countries, battling a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, could follow Austria in moving towards a full lockdown.

Nasdaq ends atop 16,000 mark for the first time on tech strength
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Banking stocks fell 1.6%, tracking a drop in Treasury yields as investors snapped up safe-haven bonds. The S&P energy index dropped 3.9%, the worst performing sector, as crude prices fell on demand implications. [O/R] [US/]

Carriers including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines, and cruiseliners Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp all dropped between 0.6% and 2.8%.

“It’s a normal time to take risk off. And in this case, there’s just so much liquidity that the market doesn’t go down – just people take risk off by going into safe havens,” said Jay Hatfield, chief executive of Infrastructure Capital Management in New York.

Falling yields and safe-haven demand supported major technology stocks, which in turn lifted the Nasdaq.

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FAANG stocks, which have largely persevered through economic shocks since 2020, traded broadly higher. Netflix Inc gained along with other stay-at-home stocks.

Chipmaker Nvidia Corp rose 4.1% to its third straight closing high, and the Philadelphia semiconductor index, up 0.3%, hit its third record closing high in four.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 268.97 points, or 0.75%, to 35,601.98; the S&P 500 lost 6.58 points, or 0.14%, at 4,697.96; and the Nasdaq Composite added 63.73 points, or 0.4%, to 16,057.44.

The S&P 500 gyrated on Friday before slipping into negative territory, after a week in which retailers pushed it to a record finish the previous day.

The S&P consumer discretionary sector rose 0.3% to a closing peak for a second day in a row, after breaking its lifetime intraday high on Friday. This follows strong retail earnings this week and positive signs for holiday shopping.

Lowe’s Companies rose 0.9% to its third successive record close after reporting third-quarter results on Wednesday. Etsy Inc, which posted earnings earlier this month, achieved the same closing feat after finishing up 1.4%.

“Out of the Q3 earnings, one of the trends we have seen is the resounding strength of the U.S. consumer,” said Jessica Bemer, portfolio manager at Easterly Investment Partners.

“We’ve heard it all through this week from retailers talking about the consumer coming back into the store, enjoying the shopping experience and getting ready for the holidays. It makes sense but it was really validated during earnings season.”

Profit-taking in names which gained earlier in the week led to drops of between 2.9% and 8.8% in Macy’s Inc, Kohls Corp and Gap Inc.

The information technology segment, up 0.8%, was the best performer on the S&P 500.

It was buoyed by Intuit Inc, which jumped 10.1% as brokerages lifted their price targets on the income tax software company after it beat quarterly estimates and raised forecasts.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.68 billion shares, compared with the 11.12 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

The S&P 500 posted 45 new 52-week highs and nine new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 100 new highs and 309 new lows.

(Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Devik Jain in Bengaluru and David French in New York; Editing by Maju Samuel and Richard Chang)