Nasdaq hits record after upbeat U.S. business surveys

(Reuters) – The Nasdaq hit a record high on Friday, while the S&P 500 and Dow also gained, as data pointed to some pockets of strength in the U.S. economy.

Business activity snapped back to the highest since early 2019 in the United States in August, according to IHS Markit surveys, as companies in both manufacturing and services sectors saw a resurgence in new orders.

Another report showed U.S. home sales rose at a record pace for a second straight month in July and home prices hit all-time highs.

The unexpectedly sharp increases in Markit’s indexes extend a pattern of choppy U.S. economic data this week – including weekly jobless claims – that paint a picture of a fitful recovery from the COVID-19 recession.

“It’s not surprising to see a pickup in manufacturing as the economy has started to reopen, even though pockets of the country have pulled back on their reopenings,” said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest. “It’s an encouraging sign and it supports the upside we have seen in the markets.”

Bets that technology-focused companies including Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and (AMZN.O) will emerge stronger from the pandemic have set the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on track to close out the week higher.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 recouped all its losses caused by the coronavirus-driven slump and joined the Nasdaq in scaling new peaks. The Dow is still 6% below its all-time high in February.

Investors also worry about a stalemate in talks between House Democrats and the White House over the next coronavirus aid bill as about 28 million Americans continued to collect unemployment checks.

In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 0.55% at 27,893.36 points, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.24% to 3,393.49.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.3% to 11,298.69.

The S&P 500 information technology .SPLRCT and industrial indexes .SPLRCI led gains.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) rose 4% as its market value continued to swell after the most valuable publicly listed company in the world crossed the $2 trillion milestone this week.

Tesla (TSLA.O) also added another 4% after surging past the $2,000 a share mark on Thursday for the first time, extending its rally ahead of an upcoming share split.

Deere & Co (DE.N) rose 5.2% after the world’s largest farm equipment maker raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.34-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 50 new highs and 27 new lows.

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