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Stock Market News for Aug 20, 2021

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The S&P 500 managed to end slightly higher on Thursday, as tech stocks rallied in an otherwise choppy trading session, as investors weighed when the Fed Reserve might pull back on its east monetary policy. The Nasdaq also ended in positive territory but the Dow ended in the red for the third straight day.

How Did The Benchmarks Perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 0.19% or 66.57 points to end at 34,894.12 points. The blue-chip index at one point was down as much as 270 points.

The S&P 500 added 0.13% or 5.53 points to close at 4,405.80 points to end its two-day losing streak. Tech stocks drove the rally but the energy sector was the worst performer.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) decline 2.6%, while the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) gained 1%. Six of the 11 sectors of the benchmark index closed in positive territory.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq inched up 0.11% or 15.87 points to finish at 14,541.79 points. Shares of Netflix, Inc. (NFLX - Free Report) and Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Free Report) gained 4.1% and 2.1%, respectively. Microsoft carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was up 0.46% to 21.67. A total of 10.3 billion shares were traded on Thursday, higher than the last 20-session average of 9.3 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 2.59-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 2.43-to-1 ratio favored declining issues.

Concerns over Global Economic Growth Grow

Stocks suffered the worst session in a month on Wednesday, with all the three indexes ending in negative territory after the minutes of the Fed’s policy meeting were published. Investors worried after it was revealed that lawmakers discussed plans of reducing the central bank’s monthly asset purchase program of $120 billion in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities by the year end.

These worries continued into Thursday, as investors tried to gauge the possible time the central bank pulls back on the easy monetary policy. Moreover, they also worried that a premature pullback could impact the pace of economic growth.

Although investors remained upbeat about the corporate earnings results from some of the major retailers, growing worries of economic recovery took a toll on stocks. To add to that was the surging cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Although tech stocks somewhat helped the markets, the overall session witnessed choppy trading.

Economic Data 

Economic data released on Thursday came in mixed. Initial jobless claims for the week ended Aug 14 hit a new post-pandemic low at 348,000, below economists’ expectations of 365,000 and a decline of 29,000 from the week earlier. The prior week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 375,000 to 377,000. The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 377,750 against last week's 396,750, a decline of 19,000.

Continuing claims also declined to 2.82 million, which was lower by 79,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

The total number of people collecting benefits under all programs declined to 11.74 million, a drop of 311,787 for the week ended July 31.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index rose 0.9% in July despite a surge in cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The Philadelphia Fed said that its manufacturing index declined 19.4 in August from 21.9 in July.

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