S&P 500 advances on boost from oil stocks, Nasdaq retreats

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 advanced on Thursday as higher commodity prices helped energy names recover ground, while the Nasdaq slipped off an earlier record high, which had been driven by heavyweight technology companies.

FILE PHOTO: People are seen on Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The energy sector rose 2.5%, reversing most of the losses suffered during the first three days of the week. Thursday’s performance was fueled by crude prices jumping on a sharp decline in U.S. inventories and a weaker dollar. [O/R]

Oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp rose 2.6% and 2.3% respectively. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp and Occidental Petroleum Corp were the largest gainers, up 7.3% and 5.7%.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq and the S&P’s technology index slipped into negative territory, as some of the industry’s largest companies saw their recent upward momentum stall.

Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Google-owner Alphabet Inc were all under water. A notable exception was Netflix Inc, which hit an all-time high on Thursday and was 1.1% higher mid-afternoon.

U.S. stocks have regularly hit record highs over the past few weeks as a solid corporate earnings season and hopes of continued central bank support underpinned confidence as data showed the country’s post-pandemic economic growth was beginning to slow.

Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week, although the focus will be on the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report on Friday to set the stage for the Fed’s policy meeting later this month.

The report is likely to show job growth slowed to 750,000 in August from 943,000 the previous month.

“The market could also look at the Fed tapering as a sign the economy is performing better, which in turn will help support stocks in the long run,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

“We position ourselves being overweight on sectors like tech and consumer discretionary instead of sectors that are more prone to cyclical changes.”

By 2:17 p.m. ET (1817 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 65.61 points, or 0.19%, to 35,378.14, the S&P 500 gained 3.91 points, or 0.09%, to 4,528 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 11.43 points, or 0.07%, to 15,297.95.

Despite deadly flash floods in New York City, trading on Wall Street was operating normally.

Financial stocks gained 0.2%, with Wells Fargo rising 2.5% after three straight sessions of losses. The lender had been weighed by a report it could face further regulatory sanctions over the pace of compensating victims of a years-long sales practice scandal. [nL1N2Q22PT]

Contracting services company Quanta Services Inc jumped 11.5% to a record high after saying it would buy privately held Blattner Holding Company in a deal valued at about $2.7 billion.

The S&P 500 posted 74 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 140 new highs and 11 new lows.

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