Technology stocks lead S&P 500, Dow to record highs

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) building after the start of Thursday's trading session in New York
American flags hang from the facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) building after the start of Thursday's trading session in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., January 28, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar
  • Fall in Treasury yields buoys mega-cap tech stocks
  • BlackRock rises as quarterly profit beats estimates
  • U.S. retail sales jump, jobless claims fall
  • Indexes up: Dow 0.82%, S&P 0.95%, Nasdaq 1.04%

April 15 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow hit record highs on Thursday as easing inflation concerns boosted demand for richly valued technology stocks, while upbeat earnings reports and strong March retail sales raised hopes of a broader economic rebound.

The S&P information technology (.SPLRCT) and communication services (.SPLRCL) indexes, which include Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O), led gains after underperforming last month.

Assurances from the Federal Reserve to maintain an accommodative monetary policy despite higher inflation, as well as more fiscal stimulus, have since revived U.S. stock markets and put the Nasdaq about 1.2% below its all-time high.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield slipped below 1.6% for the first time since March 25.

Top U.S. banks kicked off the first-quarter reporting season on Wednesday, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) posting bumper results.

Bank of America and Citigroup also offered optimistic views on an economic recovery in their earnings reports on Thursday, but shares of the second-biggest U.S. lender (BAC.N) fell 2.9% after it posted a profit that just about topped estimates. Citi’s shares were 0.2% lower.

"Uncharacteristically, expectations for earnings have improved for the quarter and what tends to move markets is when the numbers are far better than expected," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab.

"While individual names may sell off, the overall sector is fine."

At 12:30 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was up 275.71 points, or 0.82%, at 34,006.60, the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 39.23 points, or 0.95%, at 4,163.89, and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was up 144.25 points, or 1.04%, at 14,002.09.

BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), the world’s largest asset manager, gained 2.5% after reporting a 16% jump in first-quarter profit, while PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O) edged 0.2% higher after it forecast a pickup in organic revenue growth in the second quarter.

Further bolstering sentiment, data showed retail sales jumped sharply in March as Americans received additional pandemic relief checks from the government, while jobless claims fell more than expected to 576,000 last week to a one-year low.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase (COIN.O) added 2%, a day after going public in a high-profile debut on the Nasdaq that briefly valued it at more than $100 billion.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.60-to-1 ratio on the NYSE, while declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.14-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 73 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 78 new highs and 36 new lows.

Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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