Nasdaq, S&P 500 Reach New Record Highs But Dow Underperforms

With optimism about additional stimulus overshadowing disappointing jobs data, stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Friday. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 have reached new record highs, although the narrower Dow has underperformed its counterparts.

Currently, the Nasdaq is up 114.42 points or 0.9 percent at 13,181.90 and the S&P 500 is up 17.13 points or 0.5 percent at 3,820.92. Meanwhile, the Dow is lingering near the unchanged line, up just 3.98 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 31,045.11.

The markets continue to benefit from optimism that a Democrat-controlled government will lead to more fiscal stimulus and a better handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

In a statement on Thursday, President Donald Trump finally acknowledged “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th,” although he declined to mention President-elect Joe Biden by name.

Trump has repeatedly refused to accept the outcome of the election, spouting fraudulent claims of widespread voter fraud that inspired his supporters to assault the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.

Traders seem hopeful for a return to normalcy, as Democrats will control both houses of congress and the White House but do not have the margin in the Senate to force through radical legislation.

The strength on Wall Street also comes following the release of a closely watched Labor Department report showing an unexpected decrease in U.S. employment in the month of December.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment fell by 140,000 jobs in December after climbing by an upwardly revised 336,000 jobs in November.

The decline surprised economists, who had expected employment to increase by about 71,000 jobs compared to the addition of 245,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Employment decreased for the first time since April as the recent surge in coronavirus cases led to a nosedive in employment in the leisure and hospitality sector, which lost 498,000 jobs.

Traders have recently been looking on the bright side of almost every piece of news and may see the weak jobs data as more ammunition for Democrats to pursue additional stimulus.

Semiconductor stocks are extending the rally seen in the previous session, driving the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up by 1.2 percent to a new record intraday high.

Micron Technology (MU) is posting a standout gain after the chipmaker reported better than expected fiscal first quarter results and provided upbeat guidance.

Significant strength is also visible among networking stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent gain being posted by the NYSE Arca Networking Index.

F5 Networks (FFIV) is leading the sector higher after raising its long-term outlook in correction with its acquisition of universal edge-as-a-service platform Volterra.

Transportation, commercial real estate and software stocks are also seeing notable strength while gold stocks have moved sharply lower along with the price of the precious metal.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 2.4 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi skyrocketed by 4 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has inched up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.6 percent and the German DAX Index is up by 0.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the notable decline seen over the past several sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 3.4 basis points at 1.105 percent.

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