Chip, growth shares lift S&P 500, Nasdaq to record highs

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose to record 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.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 27, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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 dropped sharply 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.”

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 19.68 points, or 0.42%, to end at 4,680.25 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 128.72 points, or 0.82%, to 15,941.05. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 31.14 points, or 0.09%, to 36,126.44.

Among S&P 500 sectors, consumer discretionary and tech posted strong gains.

Qualcomm shares jumped 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, with Nvidia soaring.

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.

“The corporate earnings story remains quite bright,” said Craig Fehr, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

“The market is rewarding companies that are beating and upping their outlook, and the market is punishing companies that are missing their estimates in the quarter and more importantly, perhaps, signaling a more sour outlook.”

Moderna shares tumbled 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

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.

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