Stocks - S&P 500 Closes Higher, Apple's $1-Trillion Valuation Lifts Tech

Aug 02, 2018

The S&P 500 closed higher Thursday as an Apple-led rally in tech offset concerns over rising U.S.-China trade tensions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 0.03%. The S&P 500 rose 0.53%, while the Nasdaq Composite rose about 1.24%.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) extended its post-earnings rally, notching an unprecedented $1-trillion market cap valuation for a U.S. company, dragging tech higher and lifting the broader averages from an intraday slump.

Heavyweight tech stocks Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) also closed higher as tech continued its recovery from a recent rout, helping offset renewed trade-war jitters.

U.S. President Donald Trump proposed to raise proposed levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, up to 20% from 10%. That triggered a response from China vowing to retaliate to "defend the nation's dignity and the interests of the people."

The announcement, however, did not provoke a large downside move in trade-sensitive stocks as the news was already priced in after Bloomberg broke the story on Wednesday.

3M Company (NYSE:MMM), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and Boeing (NYSE:BA) - notable names most sensitive to escalating trade tensions – fell less than 1%.

Above-consensus reports from DowDuPont (NYSE:DWDP), Aetna (NYSE:AET) and Church & Dwight Company (NYSE:CHD) helped uphold the trend of strong earnings seen in the April-June quarter.

More than 70% of the 400 companies on the S&P 500 that reported quarterly results have topped earnings expectations, according to FactSet.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock, one of the most shorted positions on Wall Street, notched double-digit gains as traders appeared to abandon bearish after an apologetic Elon Musk said the company would be profitable in the second half.

Tesla reported a wider-than-expected earnings loss for the second quarter, but said it expected Model 3 production to reach 6,000 units by late August.

Energy stocks limited gains in the broader market as they struggled to capitalize on a sharp rebound in oil prices following a slump a day earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures for September fell 1.9% to settle at $68.96 a barrel.

On the economic front, better-than-expected jobless claims added to expectations for a strong nonfarm payrolls report due Friday.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that initial jobless claims rose by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 217,000 for the week ended July 27, beating economists’ forecast for a rise to 218,000.

That followed an upbeat report released Wednesday showing the private sector created more jobs than expected.

On the IPO front, smart speakers maker Sonos (NASDAQ:SONO) rallied more than 30% in its stock market debut.

Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:

CF Industries (NYSE:CF), PerkinElmer (NYSE:PKI), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.

TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP), Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW) and Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) were among the worst S&P500 performers of the session.