Nasdaq ends at record, but Dow closes below 30,000 milestone on Thanksgiving eve

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The technology-heavy Nasdaq index closed at a fresh record Wednesday, its first in three months, but with the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated modestly from its historic close above a milestone at 30,000 seen Tuesday.

Markets will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and will shutter early on Friday. Due to the holiday, investors received a full slate of U.S. economic reports Wednesday, including weekly jobless benefit claims, a report on new-home sales, and a reading on consumer sentiment.

On Tuesday, the Dow, S&P 500 and Russell 2000 index all closed at records.

After a record-setting day Tuesday for the Dow, investors took a breather from rotating out of shares of companies in previously “unloved” sectors of the economy during the pandemic.

“We seem to be getting fits and starts into the rotation theme in these unloved sectors,” said Michael Reynolds, investment strategy officer at Glenmede Trust, pointing to a pause in buying in downtrodden energy stocks Wednesday but renewed interest in popular stay-at-home companies. “Now there’s a bit of a breather from that.”

Energy shares were a big drag on both the Dow and S&P 500 on Wednesday, while pandemic gainers, including Apple inc. and Etsy Inc. provided upside, according to FactSet data.

In addition to watching sector rotations, investors also were parsing a deluge of U.S. economic reports that failed to provide conclusive takeaways about the state of the U.S. economic recovery from the pandemic.

Video: Stock futures trade cautiously after record day (Fox Business)

Stock futures trade cautiously after record day



“We get these fits and starts,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, of recent moves into, and away from, highflying technology shares that have led the rally this year. “Some of it is just the nature of short-term trading.”

But mixed economic data also may serve as a reminder of the challenges facing the world as COVID-19 spreads more rapidly, and before treatments become readily available. U.S. weekly jobless benefit claims rose for a second week to a five week high, while October durable goods orders rose only 0.2% excluding defense spending.

Indeed, the global tally for confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 climbed to 59.9 million on Wednesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while the death toll rose above 1.4 million. 

On top of that, there are currently a record of 88,080 COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals, according to the COVID Tracking Project, topping the previous record of 85,870 set a day ago. 

That spike comes in a week in which AstraZeneca said its coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed with the University of Oxford can reach efficacy of around 90%, adding to a list of drugmakers, including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna racing to advance a viable vaccine.

Vaccine news and reports that Biden was set to tap former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, as a candidate for U.S. Treasury Secretary, also helped to encourage stock buying.

“There was a lot of hedging and a lot of tension and uncertainty leading up to the election,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist for Truist/SunTrust Advisory Services. “Since then, we’ve just had an exhale of all those tensions one by one. And now it’s just happening at lightning speed.”

Even though the markets are largely past the big unknowns of November, and “you really are seeing such a broadening out of the rally, across sectors, industries, and stocks,” Lerner said in an interview, “sentiment is getting a bit hot.”

Wednesday brought a bevy of data, some of which have been pulled forward due to the holiday:

Andrea Riquier provided additional reporting

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