Wall St flat at the open; Nasdaq hits record high

Wall Street license plate souvenirs are displayed in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York on Nov 14, 2016.
Wall Street license plate souvenirs are displayed in front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York on Nov 14, 2016. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The Nasdaq hit a record high on Friday (Nov 18) as tech stocks continued to recover, while the Dow and the S&P 500 were little changed but near their all-time highs.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Thursday the central bank could raise interest rates “relatively soon”, sending out a clear signal for a December move.

Traders are pricing in an 83 per cent chance of a December move, according to Thomson Reuters data.

St Louis Fed President James Bullard said he was leaning toward supporting an interest rate increase in December and that the real question now would be the Fed’s rate path in 2017.

US stocks had been on a tear since Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential election last week as his proposals to increase infrastructure spending and reduce taxes are seen benefiting the economy.

The rally took a breather this week as investors sought more clarity regarding Trump’s policies.

“I think it’s a little bit of a rally given what people perceive will start to do well, so you see financials leading the way,” said Arian Vojdani, investment strategist at MV Financial. “I personally think a lot of this growth is a sugar high, if you will.”

At 9.40am ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 23.97 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 18,879.85, just 54 points away from the record it hit on Nov 14.

The S&P 500 was down 0.47 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 2,186.65. The index hit a record high of 2,193.81 on Aug 15.

The Nasdaq Composite index was up 5.54 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,339.52.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the energy index’s 0.36 per cent rise leading the advancers.

Brent crude oil prices were headed for their first weekly gain in five on Friday buoyed by renewed hopes that OPEC might agree to production cuts, but a stronger US dollar capped gains..

The dollar powered to its highest level since 2003 against a basket of currencies.

Gap fell 9.8 per cent to US$27.71 after the apparel chain said it expected a further drop in traffic during the crucial holiday shopping season.

Abercrombie & Fitch skidded 10.8 per cent to US$15.10 after the teen apparel retailer posted a bigger-than-expected drop in quarterly sales.

Salesforce.com rose 5.6 per cent to US$79.31, a day after it forecast current-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,455 to 1,163. On the Nasdaq, 1,162 issues rose and 1,128 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 69 new highs and nine new lows.