S&P 500, Nasdaq hit record highs as Apple tops $2 trillion in market value

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes hit all-time highs on Wednesday as Apple became the first publicly listed U.S. company to cross $2 trillion in market capitalization, with strong results from retailers Target and Lowe’s also lifting sentiment.

Already crowned the most valuable listed company in the world, Apple Inc rose 1.3% to cross the milestone, while providing the biggest support to the three main indexes.

“For this market to sustain all-time high levels we either have to see something develop on the fiscal side, or we would need to see large-cap tech continue to lead,” said Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at StoneX.

The S&P 500 hit a record high on Tuesday in what has been its fastest recovery ever from a bear market. The Nasdaq recouped its losses from the pandemic selloff two months ago, but the Dow is still nearly 5% below February’s record closing high.

While trillions of dollars in fiscal and monetary support and a rally in tech-related shares have helped the benchmark surge about 55% from its March lows, the country’s economy is struggling to recover from the pandemic shocks.

Minutes from Federal Reserve’s meeting, set for release at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), could offer clues into the central bank’s plans for September.

Hopes for another round of fiscal coronavirus aid, after enhanced unemployment benefits expired last month, have been driving U.S. stocks higher. But Democrats and Republicans remain divided on key issues of the bill.

Big-box chain Target Corp jumped 12.5% and was among the top boosts to the benchmark index after posting its best quarterly comparable sales growth and online revenue that nearly tripled.

Home improvement chain Lowe’s Cos Inc rose 0.3% after beating estimates for quarterly same-store sales.

Off-price retailer TJX Cos Inc, on the other hand, slumped 6.9% after posting a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss.

At 10:52 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 98.39 points, or 0.35%, at 27,876.46 and the S&P 500 was up 6.69 points, or 0.20%, at 3,396.47. The Nasdaq Composite was up 16.20 points, or 0.14%, at 11,227.04.

The market’s focus is also expected to shift to U.S. presidential elections, which is about 11 weeks away. Democrats on Tuesday formally nominated Joe Biden for president. The Republican National Convention is slated for next week.

Johnson & Johnson said it would buy Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc for about $6.5 billion in cash to bolster its portfolio of treatments for autoimmune diseases. Momenta shares soared 69.2%.

Gilead Sciences Inc fell 4.1% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration refused to approve its experimental treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in its current form.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.14-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.14-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 22 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 51 new highs and 13 new lows.

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