Wall Street stocks advanced on Friday in a holiday-shortened week as retailers started the year-end shopping season amid record COVID-19 hospitalizations in the US.
The NASDAQ Composite closed at a record high as investors favored tech-related, market-leading stocks that have fared well during the COVID-19 pandemic, while economically sensitive cyclical stocks weighed.
All three indices rose for the week, in which the S&P 500 reached a new closing high and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average ended above 30,000 for the first time ever.
“It’s an abbreviated session and volume is light, so the only conclusion is that the rally is not faltering for now,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities LLC in New York.
“It does bode well for next month,” Cardillo added. “Will we see a Santa rally? Most likely. Will it be as robust as November? That’s a big question mark.”
Retailers opened their doors to Black Friday shoppers, with social distancing practices and other measures put in place to mitigate infection risks, while offering steep discounts.
“Black Friday has been somewhat tarnished — traffic is down due to the pandemic — but the good news is e-commerce sales have reached a new record,” Cardillo said. “That’s encouraging.”
In the latest development on the road toward developing a vaccine against COVID-19, the UK gave drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC the green light after experts raised questions about the vaccine’s trial data.
As US hospitalizations for coronavirus set a grim record of more than 89,000, the race for a medical solution to the pandemic has led to promising vaccines from Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and others, fueling optimism for light at the end of the tunnel.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday rose 37.9 points, or 0.13 percent, to 29,910.37, the S&P 500 gained 8.7 points, or 0.24 percent, at 3,638.35, and the NASDAQ Composite added 111.44 points, or 0.92 percent, at 12,205.85.
For the week, the Dow rose 2.2 percent, the S&P 500 added 2.3 percent and the NASDAQ gained 3 percent.
On Friday, of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, healthcare companies enjoyed the largest percentage gains, while energy shares had the biggest percentage loss.
Chipmaker stocks, which have been resilient throughout the global health crisis, once again outperformed the broader market, with the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index rising 1.2 percent.
Shares of Walt Disney Co dipped 1.3 percent after the company said it would lay off about 32,000 workers, up from the 28,000 announced previously. Jobs are to be cut mainly at Disney’s theme parks.
Tesla Inc built on its recent rally, its shares advancing 2 percent even as US regulators opened an investigation into front suspension issues in about 115,000 Tesla vehicles.
US-listed shares of iQiyi Inc (愛奇藝) fell 1.7 percent after Reuters reported that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) had put on hold talks to buy a controlling stake in the video streaming service.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by a 1.36-to-1 ratio; on NASDAQ, a 1.73-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the NASDAQ Composite recorded 154 new highs and nine new lows.
Volume on US exchanges was 6.82 billion shares, compared with the 11.03 billion average over the past 20 trading days.
Additional reporting by staff writer