Nasdaq adds to record with soaring Amazon, Microsoft

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Nasdaq solidly extended its closing record Friday with strong boosts from Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

That proved enough to edge the S&P 500 up to a new high as well, with overall trade further charged by the three-way merger fight between generic pharmaceutical companies Teva, Mylan and Perrigo, and the collapse of Comcast's US$45 billion (S$60 billion) merger bid for Time Warner Cable.

The Nasdaq Composite Index added 36.02 points (0.71 per cent) at 5,092.08, boosting the record broken on Thursday, 15 years after the heights of the dot-com boom.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 21.45 (0.12 per cent) to 18,080.14, while the S&P 500 added 4.76 (0.23 per cent) at 2,117.69, 0.3 point above the previous record on March 2.

The Nasdaq surge came on the back of good data in the quarterly reports of the three big tech stocks: Amazon shares soared 14.8 per cent and Microsoft 10.5 per cent as they reported strong gains in cloud computing.

Google meanwhile added 3.3 per cent after reporting a 4 per cent rise in net profit on 12 per cent growth in revenues, despite significant hits from the strong dollar.

Mylan ignored the bid from Israeli generic drugs rival Teva earlier this week to up its own offer for Perrigo to US$32.6 billion, only to be rebuffed by the Perrigo board for the second time this week, which said the offer was too low.

Shareholders too were evidently disappointed: Perrigo stock fell 4.3 per cent. Teva meanwhile reiterated its US$40.1 billion offer for Mylan. Mylan's stock finished up 3.2 per cent, and Teva, 1.8 per cent.

Comcast shares added 0.7 per cent after they confirmed that, due to Justice Department antitrust opposition, they would drop their merger agreement with Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner, almost immediately reported by The Wall Street Journal to be in the sights of Charter Communications, surged 4.3 per cent. Charter gained 1.2 per cent.

But the rest of the market was more subdued as earnings reports flowed in that, while matching downplayed expectations, also gave reason to be cautious about growth going ahead.

Losers outpaced gainers on both the Dow and the Nasdaq, with Schlumberger, Novartis, Facebook and Twitter all losing more than one percent to hold back the broader indices.

Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management said that companies achieving understated earnings forecasts have provided support to share prices where they are, but cannot push them higher.

"The earnings expectations for the first quarter were lowered enough that companies are easily meeting expectations. It puts enough of a floor in the market to sustain it," he said.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 1.92 per cent from 1.95 per cent Thursday, while the 30-year dropped to 2.62 per cent from 2.63 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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