Technology stocks lift S&P 500 to record high in listless session

(Reuters) -The S&P 500 notched its third straight record high on Thursday, with mega-cap technology stocks taking charge, as investors mulled data showing a steady U.S. jobs market recovery against a backdrop of potentially inflationary producer prices.

FILE PHOTO: A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 5, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com, Google parent Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc, which account for a quarter of the S&P 500’s market capitalization, led shares on the S&P and tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Tesla Inc, Nvidia Corp and Moderna Inc also rallied on a day in which more stocks declined than advanced.

Traders snapped up shares that had missed out on the overall market marching higher the past week, according to Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel.

“The move into big tech is simply a trading opportunity. Big tech has been down for a week or so, underperforming the market pretty significantly,” Ghriskey said. “There are bargain hunters coming in, jumping on those securities.”

Apple added the most to the S&P, rising 1.8%, followed by Microsoft with a 0.9% gain and Tesla adding 1.5%.

Healthcare and technology were the best- performing S&P 500 sectors. Energy weighed the most and pulled the Dow from record highs, along with industrials and materials, on the heels of a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill in the Senate.

Data showed U.S. producer prices posted their largest annual increase in more than a decade last month, raising inflation concerns, after Wednesday’s U.S. consumer price index reading indicated the pace appeared to be slowing.

The data reflect well-known supply chain challenges that will not change Federal Reserve policy, said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial.

“Everyone is expecting potentially tapering to begin in September,” he said. “But for the most part, it would not change the conducive environment that we are currently in, for additional gains in equity markets.”

Trading volume has slumped, typical of August, as a stellar second-quarter earnings season winds down. Investors are now waiting for the Fed’s annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at month end for clues on its plans to tighten policy.

By 2:39PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 37.52 points, or 0.11%, to 35,447.45, the S&P 500 gained 8.72 points, or 0.20%, to 4,456.42 and the Nasdaq Composite added 40.49 points, or 0.27%, to 14,805.62.

Micron Technology dropped 7.1% to the bottom of the S&P 500 after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to “equal-weight.”

In earnings-related moves, Baidu Inc’s U.S. shares fell 3.7% even after the company posted upbeat quarterly revenue.

Palantir Technologies Inc gained 11.9% after the U.S. data analytics firm forecast third-quarter sales above expectations.

Earnings reports from Walt Disney Co, vacation home rental firm Airbnb Inc and food-delivery firm DoorDash Inc are due later in the day.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.51 to 1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.57 to 1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 44 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 74 new highs and 132 new lows.

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