(July 9): U.S stocks rose on Wednesday and the Nasdaq hit a record closing high, supported by technology shares as early signs of an economic rebound offset concern about further lockdowns due to a jump in coronavirus cases across the country.
Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp provided the biggest boosts to the Dow and S&P 500, with the S&P 500 technology index up 1.6% and leading sector gains. The Nasdaq outpaced the other two major indexes, ending 1.4% higher, led by Amazon.com, its fourth record closing high this month.
The number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 3 million, affecting nearly one of every 100 Americans. California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas broke their previous daily record highs for new infections.
Investors have been weighing a string of upbeat economic data including record job additions and a rebound in the service sector in June, against the surge in U.S. coronavirus cases recently, but the S&P 500 is still up more than 40% from its March closing low.
"The market continues to ignore the potential consequences of these spikes in new coronavirus cases," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
"It's overbought," he said. "While I don't expect this market to crash... I think investors at this juncture are playing with fire," he said, noting the rise in safe-haven gold prices.
Adding to the optimistic tone late in the session, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard told CNBC in an interview that U.S. unemployment will likely decline to below 8% "maybe even 7%" by the end of the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 177.1 points, or 0.68%, to 26,067.28, the S&P 500 gained 24.62 points, or 0.78%, to 3,169.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 148.61 points, or 1.44%, to 10,492.50.
Markets also appeared to be in a wait-and-watch mode before the beginning of the second-quarter earnings season, which kicks off next week with reports from the big Wall Street banks.
Quarterly earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to decline nearly 44% year-on-year, the steepest drop since the 2008 financial crisis, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Biogen Inc jumped 4.4% after the company said it submitted the marketing application for its experimental Alzheimer's disease therapy, aducanumab.
Allstate Corp shares fell 4.8% as the U.S. insurer said it would buy National General Holdings Corp for about $4 billion, scaling up its auto insurance business. National General shares surged 65.8%.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.48-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.34-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 20 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 99 new highs and 18 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.40 billion shares, compared with the 12.4 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.