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Nasdaq At Record as Investors Bet on Big Tech to Weather Virus Storm; Dow Falls

By Yasin Ebrahim – The Nasdaq closed at a record high for the second straight day Thursday as investors continued to seek refuge in megacap tech stocks at a time when the spread of the coronavirus threatens a V shape recovery.  

The S&P 500 lost 0.52%, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.63% to close at record hghs, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.38%.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and (NASDAQ:AMZN), the so-called Fab 5, which collectively make up about 40% of the Nasdaq, ended higher to help keep broader market losses in check.

Total cases rose to about 3.05 million from 2.98 million yesterday, with the death toll rising to deaths 991 from 932, according to the Center for Disease Control. 

As the outbreak continues to hit key hotspots including Texas, Florida and California, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said states should opt to pause reopening measures rather than revert to a complete shut down.

"Rather than think in terms of reverting back down to a complete shutdown, I would think we need to get the states pausing in their opening process," Fauci said.

But that did little quash investor jitters of looming shutdowns that threatened to undo the economic progress seen recently.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that initial jobless claims decreased by about 100,000 to 1.31 million in the week ended July 3, beating forecasts for a decline to 1.3 million.

Continuing claims fell 698,000 to 18.06 million, extending a trend of downside momentum that is "encouraging," Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) said. "Continuing claims are down 2.5 million over the past 4 weeks."

Energy led the selloff, paced by a decline oil prices as the pause of reopening measures in pockets of the U.S. offset signs of a recovery in gasoline demand seen a day earlier.

Financials were not far behind, falling 2% just days ahead of quarterly results from banks. The second-quarter earnings reports for a slew of Wall Street banks are likely to underscore a rough quarter amid rising loan loss provisions and weaker profit from lending activity weighed down by near-zero interest rates.

Elsewhere, AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) rallied as rumors swirled the company had hired Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) to explore a sale.

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