The NASDAQ Composite Index on Friday closed above 16,000 points for the first time, in its second-straight record finish powered by technology stocks, while COVID-19 pandemic jitters sent the Dow to its fourth losing session in the last five.
The NASDAQ and S&P 500 scored a winning week, up 1.24 percent and 0.32 percent 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 1.38 percent — wiped out the last of its gains for this month, extending the index’s drop from a record high on Monday last week to 2.3 percent.
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 toward a full lockdown.
Banking stocks fell 1.6 percent, tracking a drop in US Treasury yields as investors snapped up safe-haven bonds. The S&P energy index dropped 3.9 percent, the worst performing sector, as crude prices fell on demand implications.
Carriers, including Delta Air Lines Inc, United Airlines Inc and American Airlines Inc, and cruiseliners Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp all dropped 0.6 percent to 2.8 percent.
“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 officer of Infrastructure Capital Management in New York.
Falling yields and safe-haven demand supported major technology stocks, which in turn lifted the NASDAQ.
FAANG stocks — Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Google parent Alphabet Inc — which have largely persevered through economic shocks since last year, traded broadly higher. Netflix Inc gained along with other stay-at-home stocks.
Chipmaker Nvidia Corp rose 4.1 percent to its third straight closing high, and the Philadelphia semiconductor index, up 0.3 percent, hit its third record closing high in four.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 268.97 points, or 0.75 percent, to 35,601.98, the S&P 500 lost 6.58 points, or 0.14 percent, at 4,697.96 and the NASDAQ Composite added 63.73 points, or 0.4 percent, 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 percent 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.
“Out of the Q3 earnings, one of the trends we have seen is the resounding strength of the US consumer,” Easterly Investment Partners portfolio manager Jessica Bemer said. “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.”
Volume on US exchanges was 10.68 billion shares, compared with the 11.12 billion average for the full session over the past 20 trading days.
The S&P 500 posted 45 new 52-week highs and nine new lows, while the NASDAQ Composite recorded 100 new highs and 309 new lows.
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