Wall Street drifts higher after upbeat US business surveys

Wall Street‘s main indexes nudged higher on Friday with the tech-heavy Nasdaq notching another record high, as data highlighted the pockets of strength in the US economy.

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

Another report showed US 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 continue a pattern of choppy US economic data this week – including weekly jobless claims – that paint a picture of a fitful recovery from the COVID-19 recession.

Nonetheless, bets on technology-focused companies including Apple Inc and Amazon.com to ride out the economic uncertainty have set the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on track to close out the week higher.

“The uncertainty and choppiness are driving people back to some of the more traditional trades that have stayed immune through the course of the pandemic,” said Mike Stritch, chief investment officer at BMO Wealth Management in Chicago.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 clinched a record high, recouping the last of its losses caused by the coronavirus-driven slump and joining the Nasdaq in notching new highs.

The Dow still remains about 6% below its peak 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 cheques.

“The market will move higher, but it will be very slow and irregular one, at least until there’s a vaccine,” said Chuck Lieberman, chief investment officer at Advisors Capital Management.

At 11:06 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 68.71 points, or 0.25%, at 27,808.44, the S&P 500 was up 1.46 points, or 0.04%, at 3,386.97. The Nasdaq Composite was up 30.40 points, or 0.27%, at 11,295.35.

Technology, consumer discretionary and industrials were the only major S&P sectors in positive territory.

Apple Inc gained another 3.9%, rising for the fourth straight day.

Deere & Co rose 5% after the world’s largest farm equipment maker revised up its full-year earnings forecast.

Tesla’s shares added another 2.6% after surging past the $2,000 mark on Thursday for the first time and extending its rally ahead of an upcoming share split.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.57-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.69-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 14 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 37 new highs and 18 new lows.