By Medha Singh and Devik Jain
Aug 26 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs on Wednesday as investors bought into technology stocks that have thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic following the upbeat quarterly results from Salesforce and HP Enterprise.
Salesforce.com Inc CRM.N, which is set to enter the blue-chip Dow index .DJI next week, surged 26.8% as it raised annual revenue forecast due to high demand for its online business software.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co HPE.N added 4.6% as its full-year profit outlook came ahead of market expectations.
The tech sector .SPLRCT climbed 2.1%, while Netflix Inc NFLX.O, Microsoft Corp MSFT.O and Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O, considered to be stay-at-home winners, gained between 2.3% and 9.6%.
"Markets are pricing in uncertainty in regards to some of the coronavirus-related economic impact, due to which the stay-at-home and technology stocks have seen a renewed source of relative strength," said Matt Stucky, portfolio manager, equities, at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Adding to the upbeat mood was early data from Moderna's MRNA.O experimental COVID-19 vaccine which showed it induced immune responses in older adults that were similar to younger participants.
While, the MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS surpassed its pre-pandemic peak on Wednesday, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have hit a series of record closing highs recently, driven by stimulus and demand for tech-focused stocks.
However, latest economic data showed an uneven recovery path from recession. Attention will shift to Fed Chair Jerome Powell's address at the virtual Jackson Hole symposium before markets open on Thursday, where he is expected to outline a softer policy stance on inflation.
At 12:34 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 3.79 points, or 0.01%, at 28,252.23, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 26.18 points, or 0.76%, at 3,469.80. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 173.84 points, or 1.52%, at 11,640.32.
Energy stocks .SPNY fell 1.5% on fears of disruption to oil companies from Hurricane Laura, which is expected to rapidly strengthen to a Category 4 and hit the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast after dark.
Nordstrom Inc JWN.N tumbled 5% after reporting a bigger-than-expected loss as its stores were shut for about half of the reported quarter and consumers stayed at home with little need for designer clothes.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.46-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.37-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 31 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 78 new highs and four new lows.
(Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Arun Koyyur)
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