Nasdaq ends at record amid lower anxiety at US-Iran conflict

Wall Street rallied on Wednesday with the Nasdaq setting a record closing high as tensions between the US and Iran failed to escalate after Tehran fired missiles at US forces in Iraq.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Jan 8, 2020.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Jan 8, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Nasdaq surged to a fresh record on Wednesday (Jan 8), as the major US indices all rose amid diminished anxiety over the US-Iran conflict in the wake of an attack on American troops.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index finished up 0.7 per cent at 9,129.24, eclipsing a January 2 record by almost 40 points.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6 per cent to close at 28,745.09, while the broad-based S&P 500 added 0.5 per cent to 3,253.05.

Wall Street opened the session cautiously following a series of missile attacks by Iran on bases hosting US and other foreign troops in neighbouring Iraq.

The strikes were Iran's first concrete retaliation over the US killing of a top Iranian commander.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed there was more to come, but President Donald Trump said Teheran appeared to be "standing down" after the missile attack caused no casualties.

"At least for now, the retaliation is behind us," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. "The market can move on."

Hogan said investors are focused on an expected signing of a US-China trade accord next week, and upcoming quarterly earnings season.

In economic data, private companies added 202,000 jobs in December, according to payrolls firm ADP. The figures bested analyst expectations and came ahead of Friday's key government jobs report.

Among individual shares, Boeing dropped 1.8 percent, weighing on the Dow, following the fatal crash of a Ukraine International Airlines plane in Iran.

The aircraft involved in the accident was 737-800, a predecessor to the Boeing 737 Max, which has been grounded following two earlier crashes.

Analysts said it was too soon to speculate on causes of the crash, but characterized the incident as another unwelcome challenge for the company.

Another Dow member, Walgreens Boots Alliance, sank 5.8 per cent after reporting disappointing quarterly results.

Macy's gained 2.4 per cent after better-than-expected sales during the critical November-December holiday period.

Grubhub surged 12.6 per cent following a report that the food delivery company was considering strategic options, including a possible sale.