Nasdaq Closes at Record High as Earnings, Rally in Chips Spur Tech Bulls

By Yasin Ebrahim – The Nasdaq closed at all-time highs Friday, as tech rallied on positive earnings and growing demand for growth sectors of the market amid jitters about the global economy as fresh Covid-19 lockdowns appear on the horizon in Europe. 

The fell 0.19%, the slipped 0.75%, or 268 points, the Nasdaq gained 0.44% to end the day at a closing record of 16,057.4.

Intuit (NASDAQ:) led the move higher in tech after the business software company reported fiscal first-quarter results that beat on both the top and bottom lines.  The positive results sparked a wave of the bullish price target upgrades on Wall Street, with Deutsche Bank lifting its price target on Intuit to $780 from $700.

“Despite INTU shares +66% year to date (vs IGV +24%) we expect continued strength on the back of these results and as we enter tax season where opportunities with TurboTax Live and cross-selling Credit Karma should drive upside to updated guidance, {{0|Deutsche Bank} said.

Semiconductor stocks also supported the broader tech sector as a surge in Micron Technology (NASDAQ:) and Nvidia (NASDAQ:) offset weakness in Applied Materials.

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:) reported third-quarter results and fourth-quarter guidance that fell short of estimates as supply shortages continue to weigh on growth. Its shares fell more than 5%.

The melt-up in tech was also spurred by fresh appetite for growth stocks amid concerns about a potential slowdown in the global economy as parts of Europe looks set to step up Covid-19 restrictions.  

Austria said it would reimpose a nationwide lockdown on Monday to curb surging Covid-19 cases, raising concerns about the impact on the global economy as larger economies in the bloc including Germany could also introduce fresh restrictions.

“[S]uddenly markets are paying attention [to raising Covid-19 cases in Europe] perhaps because policy responses are beginning to emerge,” Scotiabank Economics said.

The gains in consumer discretionary stocks, one of the best performing sectors this week, continued, with Nike (NYSE:) and Tesla (NASDAQ:) up more than 2% and 3% respectively. 

Energy fell more than 3% and is on track for second-weekly losses as oil prices fell below $80 a barrel on concerns fresh restrictions in Europe will dent oil demand.

Devon Energy (NYSE:), Hess (NYSE:), Baker Hughes (NYSE:) all fell more than 5% and led the selloff in the energy sector.

Travel-related stocks including United Airlines (NASDAQ:), Carnival (NYSE:) and Airbnb (NASDAQ:) were under pressure as investors eased bets on the reopening trade.

In health care, meanwhile, Moderna (NASDAQ:) was the standout performer, racking up a 4% gain after the Food and Drug Administration authorized Covid vaccine booster shots for all U.S. adults. Pfizer’s vaccine also received approval.

In other news, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:) confirmed that it would drop plans to jointly develop an electric vehicle with Rivian Automotive Inc (NASDAQ:). Rivian ended the day up more than 4%.

On the political front, the House of Representatives passed President Biden’s $1.75 trillion “human infrastructure” package, or Build Back Better Act.

The legislative measure will progress to the Senate, where Democrats hope to pass it using the budget reconciliation process, without Republican support.

The bill will likely have to be revised as centrists such as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia have balked at its hefty price tag, and “question claims the initiative was fully paid for,” Stifel said.

“The bill would contribute $791B to the deficit in the next five years and $367B to the deficit over the coming 10 year period,” Stifel added, citing findings from the Congressional Budget Office.


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