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Nasdaq Advances Amid Expectations Tech Stocks May Benefit From New Lockdowns

wallstreet oct15 19nov20 lt

In a reversal of the performance seen on Wednesday, stocks moved higher late in the trading day on Thursday after turning in a lackluster performance for much of the session. The major averages all moved to the upside, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq outperforming its counterparts.

The major averages finished the session near their best levels of the day. The Nasdaq advanced 103.11 points or 0.9 percent to 11,904.71, while the Dow edged up 44.81 points or 0.2 percent to 29,483.23 and the S&P 500 rose 14.08 points or 0.4 percent to 3,581.87.

The notable advance by the Nasdaq seemed to reflect expectations that new lockdowns as a result of the recent spike in coronavirus cases will benefit technology companies, as was seen earlier in the pandemic.

Data from John Hopkins University showed 170,161 new coronavirus cases in the U.S. on Wednesday, the second-highest daily total, while daily deaths reached a new high of 1,848.

The recent surge in coronavirus cases has led several states to impose new restrictions and lockdowns, potentially leading the more Americans once again relying on technology as they work from home.

The markets also seemed to receive a boost from comments from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., indicating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., has agreed to resume negotiations over a new stimulus bull.

"Last night, they've agreed to sit down and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good Covid relief bill," Schumer said during a press conference.

He added, "So there's been a little bit of a breakthrough in that McConnell's folks are finally sitting down and talking to us."

The choppy trading seen earlier in the day came as traders digested a mixed batch of U.S. economic data, with separate reports showing an unexpected increase in initial jobless claims and an unexpected spike in existing home sales.

A report from the Labor Department said jobless claims climbed to 742,000 in the week ended November 14th, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week's revised level of 711,000.

The rebound came as a surprise to economists, who had expected jobless claims to edge down to 707,000 from the 709,000 originally reported for the previous week.

In the previous week, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 282,000 in the week ended March 14th.

"The risk may be for a further rise in claims as coronavirus cases surge and some states impose restrictions on activity," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales jumped by 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 6.85 million in October after soaring by 9.9 percent to a revised rate of 6.57 million in September.

The sharp increase came as a surprise to economists, who had expected existing home sales to slump by 1.4 percent to a rate of 6.45 million from the 6.54 million originally reported for the previous month.

With the unexpected spike, existing home sales reached their highest level since February of 2006. Existing home sales were up by 26.6 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

"Considering that we remain in a period of stubbornly high unemployment relative to pre-pandemic levels, the housing sector has performed remarkably well this year," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist.

Sector News

Oil service stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the session, driving the Philadelphia Oil Service Index up by 3.4 percent. With the jump, the index reached a three-month closing high

The rally by oil service stocks came despite a modest decrease by the price of crude oil, as crude for December delivery edged down $0.08 to $$41.74 a barrel.

Significant strength also emerged among airline stocks, as reflected by the 1.8 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Airline Index. The index ended the session at its best closing level in well over eight months.

Natural gas, semiconductor and software stocks also saw considerable strength on the day, while some weakness remained visible among tobacco and utilities.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in yet another mixed performance on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.4 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index slumped by 0.9 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries moved higher following the slight drop seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 2.8 basis points to 0.854 percent.

Looking Ahead

Following the slew of U.S. economic data released over the past few days, the economic calendar is relatively quiet on Friday, potentially leading to an increased focus on the latest coronavirus news.

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