Stock Market

S&P 500, Nasdaq book record closes on Black Friday

U.S. stocks registered gains for the day and week on low trading volumes that took both the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite to record finishes, before an early close Friday after the Thursday Thanksgiving holiday.

The New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq closed at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, while the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association recommended a 2 p.m. Eastern close for bonds.

How did stock benchmarks perform?
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average

    rose 37.90 points to close at 29,910.37, a gain of 0.1%.

  • The S&P 500 index

    advanced 8.70 points, or 0.2%, to end at 3,638.35, finishing at its 26th record close of the year.

  • The Nasdaq Composite Index

    climbed 111.44 points to close at 12,205.85, a gain of 0.8% to mark the technology-laden index’s 45th record of 2020.

On Wednesday:

  • The Dow closed down 173.77 points, 0.6%, at 29,872.47.

  • The S&P 500 index lost 5.76 points, 0.2%, ending at 3,629.65.

  • The Nasdaq Composite Index added 57.62 points, or 0.5%, to book a record close at 12,094.40.

For the week:

  • The Dow rose 2.2%

  • The S&P 500 gained 2.3%

  • The Nasdaq Composite logged a 3% rise

What drove the market?

U.S. equity markets clambered higher Friday, hitting all-time highs for two of the three major benchmarks, as investors noted healthy online retail sales with the holiday shopping season beginning and parsed an update about the presidential transition as well as news related to vaccines for COVID-19.

Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, also is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year for Americans though online sales are likely to replace in-store shopping to an even greater extent this year during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“It’s a light day for news today but over the weekend and into Monday investors may look for Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales results for indications of consumers’ willingness to spend amid current COVID and economic uncertainty, and whether spending has shifted more online this year,” wrote Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management in a Friday note.

Retailers made gains Friday with the SPDR S&P Retail ETF

up 0.9% to an all time high. Amazon

gained 0.3%, and Shopify

climbed 1.5% after Adobe Analytics said Thanksgiving Day online sales rose to a record $5.1 billion as the pandemic forces consumers online.

Earlier, on Thanksgiving Day, President Donald Trump said he would leave the Oval Office if the Electoral College elects former Vice President Joe Biden as is expected on Dec. 14. The statement is arguably the most decisive acknowledgment of defeat for the 45th president, who has yet to formally concede the 2020 election that took place on Nov. 3, and has been called in favor of Biden. The Associated Press has declared Mr. Biden the winner of the election, with 306 electoral college votes to 232 for Mr. Trump.

Trading Friday also comes amid the persistent rise in COVID-19 cases, despite progress on remedies.

The global tally for confirmed cases of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 climbed above 61 million on Friday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while the death toll rose above 1.4 million. In the U.S., the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 surpassed 90,000 for the first time, as the pandemic loomed over the holiday.

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The resurgence of the disease has prompted fresh restrictions on business and consumer activity in both the U.S. and other countries. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday the country’s partial lockdown would be extended until Dec. 20, while France will remain locked down until Dec. 15, raising concerns over the economic impact in the coming months ahead of a potential vaccine distribution.

Meanwhile, the market was keeping one eye on AstraZeneca 

shares, which ended flat Friday, but came under pressure in premarket trading, as questions were raised over the recent results of its experimental vaccine, being developed by the University of Oxford.

The British drugmaker said earlier this week the vaccine was around 90% effective when volunteers were given a half-dose shot followed by a full dose a month later, but 62% effective when two full doses were given. Chief of the U.S. Operation “Warp Speed ” program for vaccine development, Moncef Slaoui, and others in the U.S. have expressed concern over aspects of the late-stage study, but British officials have supported the findings of the vaccine maker.

Which stocks were in focus?
  • Tiffany & Co.

    said Friday it will hold a virtual special shareholder meeting on Dec. 30, to allow a vote on an amended merger agreement with France’s LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton SE
    Shares of Tiffany closed up 0.1%.

  • Tesla Inc.

     is recalling 870 cars in China because of a fault in the roofs that could cause a part to fall off, AFP reported Friday, citing China’s market regulator. Tesla shares still ended 2.1% higher.

  • Biogen Inc.

    and Sage Therapeutics Inc.

    said Friday they have agreed to jointly develop therapies to treat depression and movement disorders in a deal in which Biogen will give Sage $1.525 billion in cash. Shares of Biogen gained 0.8%, while Sage shares fell 8.6%.

  • Shares of Banco de Sabadell SA

    slid 13.6% on Friday after the Spanish bank said merger talks with bigger rival BBVA SA

    had ended.

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How did other assets perform?
  • The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index

    closed 0.4% higher, while U.K.’s FTSE 100 index

    edged up 0.1% on Friday.

  • In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite Index

    closed 1.1% higher, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng

    booked a 0.3% gain, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index

    finished 0.4% higher on the session.

  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index

    was off 0.2% at 91.82.

  • U.S. crude-oil futures

    were off 0.4% at $45.52 a barrel.

  • Gold futures

    closed 1.3% lower, ending below a key support level, at $1,788.10 an ounce.

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