Black Friday: Wall Street gains, Nasdaq hits closing record

The Nasdaq outperformed as investors favoured tech-related stocks that have fared well during the pandemic.

Wall Street's main stock indexes rose for the week, with the S&P 500 reaching a new closing high and the blue-chip Dow ending above 30,000 for the first time [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]
Wall Street's main stock indexes rose for the week, with the S&P 500 reaching a new closing high and the blue-chip Dow ending above 30,000 for the first time [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]

Wall Street stocks advanced and the Nasdaq closed at a record high on Friday as retailers kicked off the yearend shopping season amid record COVID-19 hospitalisations.

The Nasdaq outperformed as investors favoured tech-related, market-leading stocks that have fared well during the pandemic, while economically sensitive cyclical stocks weighed.

All three indexes rose for the week, in which the S&P 500 reached a new closing high and the blue-chip Dow ended above 30,000 for the first time ever.

“It’s an abbreviated session and volume is light, so the only conclusion is that the rally is not faltering for now,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“It does bode well for next month,” Cardillo added. “Will we see a Santa rally? Most likely. Will it be as robust as November? That’s a big question mark.”

Retailers opened their doors to Black Friday shoppers, with social distancing practices and other measures put in place to mitigate infection risks while offering steep discounts.

“Black Friday has been somewhat tarnished – traffic is down due to the pandemic – but the good news is e-commerce sales have reached a new record,” Cardillo said. “That’s encouraging.”

In the latest development on the road towards developing a vaccine against COVID-19, the United Kingdom gave drugmaker AstraZeneca the green light after experts raised questions about the vaccine’s trial data.

As US hospitalisations for coronavirus set a grim record of more than 89,000, the race for a medical solution to the pandemic has led to promising vaccines from Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and others, increasing optimism for a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.9 points, or 0.13 percent, to 29,910.37; the S&P 500 gained 8.7 points, or 0.24 percent, at 3,638.35; and the Nasdaq Composite added 111.44 points, or 0.92 percent, at 12,205.85.

Of the 11 main sectors in the S&P 500, healthcare companies enjoyed the largest percentage gains while energy shares had the biggest percentage loss.

Chipmaker stocks, which have been resilient throughout the global health crisis, once again outperformed the broader market, with the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index rising 1.2 percent.

Shares of Walt Disney Co dipped 1.3 percent after the company said it would lay off about 32,000 workers, up from the 28,000 announced previously. Jobs will be cut mainly at Disney’s theme parks.

Tesla Inc built on its recent rally, its shares advancing 2.0 percent even as US regulators opened an investigation into front suspension issues in about 115,000 Tesla vehicles.

US-listed shares of iQIYI Inc fell 1.7 percent after Reuters news agency reported Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd had put on hold talks to buy a controlling stake in the video streaming service.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.36-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.73-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 154 new highs and nine new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 6.82 billion shares, compared with the 11.03 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

Source: Reuters

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