Nasdaq surges on megacap earnings

Provided by CNBC Procter & Gamble Tide Pods brand laundry detergent

Provided by CNBC Procter & Gamble Tide Pods brand laundry detergent

Wall Street's main indexes jumped at the open on Friday, with Apple and Facebook hitting a record high as stunning quarterly reports from some of the biggest USA tech firms helped keep nagging pandemic nerves at bay.

The S&P 500 was 0.1% higher after the first half hour of trading, on track to close out its fourth straight winning month.

"With the impact of past stimulus measures fading and given some evidence that the global recovery has already stalled, it remains to be seen what will help keep global stock markets elevated in the coming months, especially US stocks", said Fawad Razaqzada, a market analyst at ThinkMarkets.

Amazon rose after posting its biggest profit ever while Facebook shares jumped after the social media giant blew past revenue expectations.

Among blue-chip Dow constituents, Caterpillar Inc rose 3.6% after the heavy equipment maker beat quarterly profit forecast, while Merck & Co Inc gained 2.4% after raising its full-year earnings forecast.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 95.68 points, or 0.36 percent, at the open to 26,409.33, while the S&P 500 opened higher by 24.23 points, or 0.75 percent, at 3,270.45.

A surge in the stock price of the four companies, which make up almost a fifth of the S&P 500's value, as well as aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus have sent the tech-heavy Nasdaq to record highs and set the S&P 500 on course for its fourth straight monthly gain.

The S&P 500 and Dow have closed lower after data painted a worrying economic picture on a crucial day for corporate earnings reports, while US President Donald Trump exacerbated investor nervousness by floating the possibility of delaying the US presidential election. Apple also announced a 4-for-1 stock split. Their stocks are all up at least 14% this year, whereas the S&P 500 is up just 0.5%.

The four companies are among the top five in market capitalization, representing about 20 percent of the S&P 500's total.

Investors are also continuing to wait for signs of progress from Capitol Hill, where Congress is debating how and whether to offer more aid for the economy ravaged by the pandemic.

Investors also anxious about the expiration of enhanced employment benefits on Friday as US Congress was no closer to a deal on Thursday to extend or replace the extra $US600-per-week in payments to tens of millions thrown out of work by the coronavirus.

A little more than 1.4 million USA workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, according to a Thursday report from the Labor Department. It was the second time that the index has flip-flopped on consecutive days this week. The yield on the 10-year Treasury ticked up to 0.55% from 0.54% late Thursday. Brent crude, the worldwide standard, fell 81 cents to $42.94 a barrel. The FTSE 100 in London was down 2.3%.

The United States has suffered its worst economic decline on record as the economy contracted at an annual rate of 32.9 per cent in the second quarter of the year, amid mounting COVID-19 fallout, the US Commerce Department reported Thursday. Stocks in Shanghai slipped 0.2%.

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