Dow, S&P 500 Rise To New Record Highs But Nasdaq Nearly Flat

Stocks have moved modestly higher in morning trading on Friday, extending the rally seen in the previous session. With the continued upward move, the Dow and the S&P 500 have once again reached new record intraday highs.

Currently, the Dow and the S&P 500 are hovering in positive territory, while the Nasdaq is nearly flat. The Dow is up 138.70 points or 0.4 percent at 34,174.69 and the S&P 500 is up 10.15 points or 0.2 percent at 4,180.57, but the Nasdaq is down 5.44 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 14,033.32.

The markets continue to benefit from yesterday’s strong U.S. economic data, with upbeat economic data from China adding to optimism about a global economic recovery.

A report from the National Bureau of Statistics showed the Chinese economy saw record growth in the first quarter, as GDP spiked 18.3 percent year-over-year.

Upbeat earnings news has also generated continued buying interest, as Morgan Stanley (MS) has joined other financial giants in reporting better than expected first quarter earnings.

On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a substantial rebound in new residential construction in the month of March.

The Commerce Department said housing starts skyrocketed by 19.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.739 million in March after plunging by 11.3 percent to a revised rate of 1.457 million in February.

Economists had expected housing starts to spike by 13.5 percent to a rate of 1.613 million from the 1.421 million originally reported for the previous month.

With the bigger than expected increase, housing starts reached their highest level since hitting an annual rate of 1.802 million in June of 2006.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan released a report showing sentiment has continued to improve in April but by much less than anticipated.

The preliminary report showed the consumer sentiment index rose to 86.5 in April after soaring to 84.9 in March. Economists had expected the index to jump to 89.6.

Despite the much smaller than expected increase, the consumer sentiment index still reached its highest level since hitting 89.1 in March of 2020.

Housing stocks are seeing considerable strength following the strong housing starts data, with the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index climbing by 1.8 percent to its highest intraday level since a two-for-one split in early 2006.

Significant strength has also emerged among chemical stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain being posted by the S&P Chemical Sector Index. The index has reached a record intraday high.

Computer hardware and banking stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has jumped by 1.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.9 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are giving back ground after ending the previous session sharply higher. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.8 basis points at 1.578 percent.

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