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US STOCKS-Nasdaq closes at all-time high as tech stock gains offset weak data

Thu, 20th Aug 2020 21:00

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

* S&P 500, Dow Jones end higher

* Weekly jobless claims back over 1 million

* Nvidia dips as data center business results disappoint

* Intel jumps after announcing $10 bln share buyback plan
(Updates to close, adds new comment)

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Nasdaq ended at a record high
on Thursday, with the S&P 500 and Dow also rising, as gains in
heavyweight tech stocks outweighed downbeat data that affirmed
the Federal Reserve's view of a difficult road to economic
recovery.

Gains in Apple Inc - the only publicly listed U.S.
company to cross the $2 trillion market value milestone -
Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp underpinned
the three main indexes' gains as investors bet they would ride
out the economic crisis.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose
0.17% to end at 27,740.17 points, while the S&P 500
gained 0.32% to 3,385.56.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.06% to 11,264.95.

Stocks had opened lower on data that 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.

Separate data from the Philadelphia Fed showed a business
conditions index fell more than expected in August.

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

"Investors are looking through this downturn towards a point
where we will begin to get a recovery especially with the
Federal Reserve backstopping the companies," said Brian
Reynolds, chief market strategist at Reynolds Strategies.

"Whether it's right or wrong, that's the way it is. Though,
I think the market is getting a little too exuberant," he added.

Nasdaq clocked its 19th record closing high since early
June, when it confirmed its recovery from the coronavirus
sell-off. Thursday's record close was its 35th so far this year
compared with 31 record closing highs in 2019 and 29 in 2018.

Despite signs that parts of the economy are 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. It also confirmed a bull market for
the S&P 500.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq retreated from record levels on
Wednesday after minutes from the Fed's latest policy meeting
gave a somber assessment of the U.S. economy as it grapples with
the pandemic, but ruled out, for now, more dovish easing policy
measures.

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

Nvidia Corp edged higher after posting better than
expected quarterly sales forecast.

Intel Corp rose after announcing a $10 billion
share buyback plan.

L Brands Inc advanced 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.
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Cynthia
Osterman)

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