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US STOCKS-Megacap earnings lift Nasdaq but fiscal uncertainty weighs

Fri, 31st Jul 2020 19:42

(For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click or
type LIVE/ in a news window)

* Apple briefly becomes world's most valuable public company

* Only 3 Dow components in positive territory

* Dow down 0.71%, S&P 500 down 0.43%, Nasdaq up 0.21%
(Updates to midafternoon, changes byline)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq rose on Friday,
lifted by strong earnings from some of the largest U.S.
companies, but gains were curbed and the Dow and S&P lost ground
as uncertainty about the government's next round of coronavirus
aid exacerbated economic worries.

Apple shares surged to reach a high of $413.33 and
were last up 7.36% at $413.09 in the wake of blowout quarterly
results and a four-for-one stock split announcement.

Amazon gained 3.73% after posting its biggest
profit ever while Facebook jumped 7.76% after the social media
giant blew past revenue expectations.

Google parent Alphabet Inc, however, fell 4.79%,
and was among the biggest drags on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, as it
posted the first quarterly sales dip in its 16 years as a public
company.

"It was all very exciting but the fact is the market is
exhausted. It’s not falling out of bed, it’s not crashing, it is
just churning," said Ken Polcari, chief market strategist at
SlateStone Wealth LLC in Jupiter, Florida.

The four companies are among the top five in market
capitalization, representing roughly 20% of the S&P 500's total,
and Apple's gain pushed it ahead of Saudi Aramco as
the world's most valuable public company, according to Refinitiv
data.

Negotiations over coronavirus relief aid continued, but the
White House and Democrats were not yet on a path toward reaching
a deal according to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy
Pelosi, hours before the expiration of a federal unemployment
benefit.

"Some of that concern is absolutely because that deal hasn’t
gotten done yet and when is it going to get done?" said Polcari.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 186.59 points,
or 0.71%, to 26,127.06, the S&P 500 lost 13.95 points, or
0.43%, to 3,232.27 and the Nasdaq Composite added 22.12
points, or 0.21%, to 10,609.94.

Deaths from COVID-19 appeared to be rising at their fastest
rate since early June in the United States, while the epicenter
of the pandemic showed signs of shifting to the Midwest.

The benchmark index is now about 4% shy of its February
all-time high, but faltering macroeconomic data and rising
COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are making investors cautious again.

Still, the S&P is on track for its fourth weekly gain in the
past five and fourth straight month of gains as massive amounts
of fiscal and monetary stimulus measures have helped support
equities.

Energy stocks were the worst performing among the 11
major S&P sectors after Chevron Corp reported an $8.3
billion loss on asset writedowns and ExxonMobil Corp
recorded a second consecutive quarterly loss.

Caterpillar Inc fell 3.09% after the bellwether for
economic activity offered little signs of improvement in
equipment sales.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
2.50-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.82-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 94 new highs and 20 new lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by David Gregorio)

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