Dow, S&P 500 Reach Record Closing Highs, Tech-Heavy Nasdaq Spikes

Stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching new record closing highs. The tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a particularly strong upward move after ending the previous session slightly lower.

The Nasdaq soared 329.84 points or 2.5 percent to 13,398.67 and the S&P 500 jumped 40.53 points 1 percent to 3,939.34. The Dow pulled back well off its best levels of the day but still closed up 188.57 points or 0.6 percent to 32,485.59.

Technology stocks helped lead the way higher amid continued bargain hunting, which led to the Nasdaq’s biggest single-day gain since last November on Tuesday.

Prior to the spike seen on Tuesday, the Nasdaq had entered correction territory, tumbling by more than 10 percent from the record high set last month.

The markets also benefited from optimism about the impact of more fiscal stimulus after the House passed a $1.9 trillion relief package, which President Joe Biden later signed into law.

Buying interest may also have been generated in reaction to a report from the Labor Department showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell to a four-month low in the week ended March 6th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims dropped to 712,000, a decrease of 42,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 754,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 725,000 from the 745,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 711,000 in the week ended November 7th.

The data adds to the positive picture of the labor market painted by last week’s much better than expected monthly jobs report.

Sector News

Semiconductor stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, extending the volatility seen over the past several sessions.

After slumping by 1.8 percent in the previous session, the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index surged up by 4.1 percent.

Networking, computer hardware and software stocks also saw considerable strength, contributing to the jump by tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Outside of the tech sector, significant strength was also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 3.7 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index reached its best closing level in nine years.

Biotechnology, retail and gold stocks are also saw notable strength on the day, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index spiked by 2.4 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index both rose by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries showed a lack of direction over the course of the session before closing roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by less than a basis point to 1.527 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Friday may be impacted by reaction to the latest U.S. economic data, including reports on producer price inflation and consumer sentiment.

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