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Tesla and Apple carry the Nasdaq into the green as Wall Street closes out strong month

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 slipped below opening levels but still posted one of the best months of the past few years

Wall Street
Tesla shares jumped nearly 9% following its 5-for-1 split to trade around $479 on Friday afternoon

4.10pm Wall Street closes out strong August with mixed results

US stock indices were a mixed bag to end the day, but overall the market's performance was one of the best months of the decade.

Spurred by Tesla and Apple's stock rally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished in the green, up 0.7% at 11,775 points. The S&P 500 slipped 0.2% at the close to finish at 3,500 points and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.8% to end the day at 28,430.

12pm Tesla, Apple rally 

Around 12 noon in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 196 points, or 0.6% lower at 28,457 pressurised by decilnes in bank stocks led by JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo which were all down by more than 1% in early afternoon trading. 

Meanwhile, the tech-laden Nasdaq continued to outperform with a 0.6% gain to hover around 11,770 as investors watched the high-flying tech shares of Apple and Tesla — whose stocks split on Monday after setting new record highs. Apple shares gained 3.2% as a 4-for-1 split took effect.

Tesla shares added nearly 9% following its 5-for-1 split to trade around $479 on Friday afternoon.

10am Technicalities weigh on the Dow

US markets made mixed early progress on Monday, with the blue-chip index reversing Friday’s strong gains as traders highlighted some technical factors.

By 10am in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 153 points, or 0.5%, lower at 28,500.80, having added 161 points on Friday which had meant that all of its 2020 losses were then erased.

Monday, however, saw some important changes to the US blue-chip index, perhaps most importantly, to how it is calculated. From the open, the divisor - the figure used to determine the influence of any of the 30 components that make up the price-weighted index - was changed for the first time since April 2019. 

This move was partly precipitated by Apple Inc.’s 4-for-1 stock split, which took effect today, the fifth split in the tech giant’s 40 years as a publicly-traded company.

The owners of the blue-chip benchmark, S&P Dow Jones Indices, also initiated three changes in the 30 stock components of the index, with Salesforce.com Inc., Amgen Inc. and Honeywell International Inc. added to the index, replacing Exxon Mobil Corp, Pfizer Inc., and Raytheon Technologies Corp.

Meanwhile, the broader S&P 500 index hit a record high at the open for a sixth straight session on Monday, up 1.72 points, or 0.05% at 3,509.73 to put the index on course for its best August performance in decades, but it soon eased back to shed 1.91 points after half an hour of trading.

The Nasdaq Composite, however, continued its advance, gaining 33 points, or 0.3%, to 11,729 as tech stocks remained buoyed by hopes for an economic revival from the coronavirus pandemic thanks to expected prolonged central bank support.

8.00am: Another record push expected

US stocks are expected to open higher on Monday for the eighth successive session amid hope for an economic revival from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic backed by central bank support.

The Federal Reserve’s commitment to tolerate inflation and keep interest rates low, signs of progress in developing vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and demand for tech-focused stocks have helped the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite hit consecutive all-time highs recently. Meanwhile, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrials Average is within 3% of its record close.

Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe commented: “Jerome Powell's soothing tones are continuing to provide that calming reassurance for investors, even as we head into what could be a rollercoaster ride in the final months of the year. Investors as ever are optimistic. A vaccine is on the way and perhaps Biden wouldn't be such a bad thing for the markets after all. A multi-trillion dollar US stimulus package is just the icing on the cake.”

The US presidential campaign is also set to take center-stage in the coming weeks with market volatility expected to spike ahead of polling in November.

Erlam added: “We're now just over two months from the US election and with Trump pinning his hopes on being the right person to get the economy booming again, a few knockout jobs reports won't do him any harm. And looking at the polls, he needs any help he can get.”

Four things to watch for on Monday:

  • Aimmune Therapeutics Inc (NASADAQ:AIMT.O) more than doubled premarket after Swiss food group Nestle offered to pay $2 billion for full ownership of the peanut allergy treatment maker to expand its fast-growing health science business
  • Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) and Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) as pre-announced stock splits for both took effect
  • Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE:BRKa) has bought a 5% stake in each of Japan’s five biggest trading houses, together worth over $6 billion, marking a departure for chairman Warren Buffett as he looks beyond the US to diversify his conglomerate
  • Philips said the US Department of Health has cancelled most of an order for 43,000 ventilators, leading the Dutch medical equipment maker to cut its 2020 earnings outlook

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