Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit a fresh record high on Thursday boosted by gains in retail and technology shares as markets expectations for a sooner Fed rate hike were dashed. On Wednesday, the Fed announced an expected reduction in stimulus but signalled no hurry to raise interest rates while reiterating inflationary pressures are likely to be transitory.
The Dow slipped from an all-time closing high hit on Wednesday, dragged down by big banks JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N) which slipped 1.7% and 2.6% despite steepening of the yield curve. initial claims fell more than expected to a pandemic low while labour costs soared above forecasts. Investors now await the highly anticipated jobs report due tomorrow for an update on the labour market recovery. Meantime, the Dow Jones slipped 0.1% to 36,124 on Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Down Inc losses. The Nasdaq rose 0.8% to 15,940 and the S&P 500 rose 0.4% to 4,680.
Shares of Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) jumped 11.4% after the chipmaker forecast better-than-expected profit and revenue for its current quarter. Rival Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) also climbed 9.9% to provide the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, while the Philadelphia SE semiconductor index (.SOX) added 2.1%.Electronic Arts Inc (EA.O) and rival Take-Two Interactive Software Inc (TTWO.O) gained 2.9% and 2.3%, respectively, after they boosted their 2021 adjusted sales forecasts on strong gaming boom. Three of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced. Financials (.SPSY) and healthcare (.SPXHC) declined more than 1%.The S&P 500 banks sub-index (.SPXBK) fell 2.2%.
On Wednesday, a widely expected move by the Fed on announcing its plan to start tapering its monthly bond purchases beginning this month while staying patient on raising interest rates also helped sentiment. "We have had a very strong earning season and the Fed has followed through on what it was preparing markets for and investors generally get happy if they get what they expect," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas. "The last time the Fed tapered, it took more than a year for it to hike rates and it looks like that's what is going to happen going ahead too, with only one-third of the market factoring hikes next year."
A cheery third-quarter earnings season, coupled with an upbeat commentary about future growth from corporate America, has helped Wall Street largely dismiss concerns around rising prices, supply chain snags and a mixed macro-economic picture. Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a fresh 19-month low last week. It will be followed by a more comprehensive nonfarm payrolls report on Friday.
Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) added 1.5% to scale new heights, while other mega-cap technology titans Google-owner Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Amazon.com (AMZN.O) and Meta Platforms (FB.O) also moved higher. Merck & Co (MRK.N) rose 2.5% after Britain became the first country in the world to approve its COVID-19 antiviral oral pill jointly developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) dropped 18.4% after the vaccine maker cut its full-year sales forecast for its COVID-19 vaccine.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.15-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 69 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 183 new highs and 25 new lows.