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Wall Street ekes out gains as tech stocks eclipse data gloom

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imageStock Markets12 minutes ago (Aug 20, 2020 01:30PM ET)

(C) Reuters. The front facade of the of the NYSE is seen in New York

By Medha Singh and Nishara Karuvalli Pathikkal

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes edged higher on Thursday as gains in heavyweight tech stocks overshadowed gloom over downbeat data that underlined the Federal Reserve’s view of a difficult road to recovery.

Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) – the only publicly listed U.S. company to cross the $2 trillion market value milestone – Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) were among the biggest supports for all three indexes on bets they would ride out the current economic crisis.

“Investors are now modifying where they would traditionally invest when they have uncertainty about the future,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial Corp in Jersey City.

“They see (tech) stocks continue to perform and they are now filling up a defensive void that has been left by a lot of traditional places that defensive investors move to.”

The three main indexes had opened lower after data showed jobless claims rose unexpectedly back above the 1 million mark last week after slipping below that level for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

A separate set of data from the Philadelphia Fed showed business conditions index fell more than expected in August.

“Weekly jobless claims show how uneven the economic recovery is going to be,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

The volatility in jobless claims follows the lapse of an extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit at the end of July and comes at a time when Democrats in Congress have failed to reach an agreement with the White House on extending it.

Despite signs that parts of the economy were still far away from pre-pandemic levels, the benchmark S&P 500 index completed its fastest recovery from a bear market this week, joining the Nasdaq in scaling new peaks.

The two indexes retreated from record levels on Wednesday after minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting highlighted that the labor market’s swift rebound in May and June had likely slowed.

At 13:03 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 18.16 points, or 0.07%, at 27,711.04, the S&P 500 was up 2.59 points, or 0.08%, at 3,377.44. The Nasdaq Composite was up 62.57 points, or 0.56%, at 11,209.03.

Economically sensitive financial and energy sectors were some of the biggest percentage losers among the major S&P sectors.

Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) Corp edged higher after posting better than expected quarterly sales forecast.

Intel Corp (NASDAQ:INTC) rose 1.5% after announcing a $10 billion share buyback plan.

L Brands Inc (NYSE:LB) rose 5.1% after reporting a surprise quarterly profit, boosted by strong demand for Bath & Body Works’ products as well as higher online sales of Victoria’s Secret lingerie.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.67-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.76-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 12 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 54 new highs and 22 new lows.

Wall Street ekes out gains as tech stocks eclipse data gloom

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