S&P 500, Nasdaq at all-time highs on COVID-19 treatment hopes


By Medha Singh and Devik Jain

Aug 24 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Nasdaq scaled new highs on Monday as a gain in Apple shares and U.S. approval for the emergency use of blood plasma in COVID-19 patients lifted treatment hopes and spurred bets of a quicker economic recovery.

The moves come ahead of the four-day Republican National Convention, where President Donald Trump will be nominated to lead his party for four more years, kicking off the final sprint to Nov. 3 Election Day.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision to use antibody-rich plasma from recovered patients was hailed by Trump and came a day after he accused it of impeding the rollout of treatments for political reasons.

The World Health Organization, however, was cautious about endorsing the treatment, citing "low quality" evidence that it works.

"The stock market has a reputation of anticipating future events that gives people confidence there will be a 'normal' going forward because of the incredible amount of resources that have been put towards the pandemic," said Tom Plumb, chief investment officer at Plumb Funds in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ahead of the 4-for-1 share split, Apple Inc AAPL.O gained 0.9% to cross $500 per share for the first time, providing the biggest boost to the three main indexes.

Economically-sensitive energy .SPNY, financials .SPSY and materials .SPLRCM advanced more than any other major S&P sector.

Aiding market sentiment was a report the Trump administration is considering fast-tracking an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L and Oxford University for use in the United States before election.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record levels on Friday, wrapping up four weeks of gains on bets that technology focused companies will emerge stronger from the pandemic and the economy will return to growth on continued monetary and fiscal support.

The Dow, however, is still about 5% below its February peak.

Meanwhile, the next phase of coronavirus government aid remained elusive as top Democrats and Republicans continued to blame each other for stalled talks on the legislation.

A key event this week would be the address by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at the Kansas City Fed Jackson Hole symposium, where he will talk on the monetary policy framework review.

At 11:09 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 273.67 points, or 0.98%, at 28,204.00, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 23.67 points, or 0.70%, at 3,420.83. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 41.54 points, or 0.37%, at 11,353.34.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.86-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.24-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 44 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 72 new highs and 28 new lows.

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Arun Koyyur)

((Medha.Singh@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 1130; Twitter: https://twitter.com/medhasinghs))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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