Renewed demand for heavily-weighted mega-caps and tech shares led equity indexes higher Friday. The Dow Jones industrial index rose 1.3 percent, the S&P 500 rose 1.6 percent, and the NASDAQ advanced 2.3 percent.
Facebook, up 2.1 percent, Apple, up 3.8 percent, Microsoft, up 2.3 percent, Alphabet, up 1.2 percent, Amazon, up 2.5 percent, and chipmaker Nvidia, up 4.3 percent, led the way higher.
Most sectors were higher, with tech, health care, and real estate among the best performers. Energy shares lagged.
Among companies in focus, Novovax, the biotech, popped up 11 percent after announcing it has begun its phase-three trial of its Covid-19 vaccine in the UK and will begin a similar large-scale trial in the US in October. Endo International, the pharma, rose 8.4 percent after announcing it will manufacture the Novovax Covid vaccine. Bristol-Myers Squibb rose 2.1 percent on positive clinical trial results for its cancer treatment.
On the downside, Costco fell 1.3 percent as costs offset strong sales driven by consumer demand for bulk home goods during the pandemic.
In US economic data, durable goods orders rose a modest 0.4 percent in August to pull within 5.4 percent of where they were in February. This is a slight improvement from 5.8 percent in July. More positive: core capital goods orders rose 1.8 percent and are now 1.9 percent over February. This reading will favorably shift the discussion and outlook for business investment.
These price data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET: Dated Brent spot crude oil rose 11 cents to US$41.93, while spot gold fell US$4.19 to US$1863.89. The US dollar rose against most major currencies. The US Treasury 30-year bond yield was unchanged at 1.40 percent while the 10-year note yield declined 1 basis point to 0.65 percent.
Equities were mixed to down Friday and the Europe-wide STOXX 600 lost almost 4 percent on the week as rising virus counts in Europe and the prospect of renewed lockdowns raised worries over the recovery. On the day, the STOXX 600 declined 0.1 percent, the German DAX percent lost 1.1 percent, the French CAC declined 0.7 percent, and the UK FTSE-100 rose 0.3 percent.
Among sectors, best performers included travel & leisure, media, utilities, food & beverage, and health care. Lagging the most were autos & parts, oil & gas, industrials, retail, and financial services.
Among companies in focus, boohoo Group, the UK online retailer, rose 15 percent after releasing plans to address concerns about poor working conditions at its clothing factories. Aviva, the UK insurance company, rose 0.3 percent on reports it may be acquired. Shaftesbury, the UK real estate investment trust, rose 3.5 percent after it announced plans to support the recovery of restaurants and other businesses renting its properties.
Notable decliners included Julius Baer, the Swiss bank, down 1.4 percent on a court ruling that it must repay $160 million stolen by an East German agent after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Wizz Air fell 1.4 percent after announcing it will operate at half capacity.
Major Asian markets posted mixed results on the day Friday but generally closed the week lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index underperformed on both the day and the week with declines of 0.3 percent and 5.0 percent respectively, while the Shanghai Composite index fell slightly on the day, down 0.1 percent, but also recorded a sizeable decline on the week of 3.6 percent. Japan's Nikkei and Topix indices both rose 0.5 percent on the day and both fell 0.7 percent on the week. Australia's All Ordinaries index rose 1.4 percent on both the day and on the week, led by strong gains in shares of major banks after the Australian government announced an easing of consumer lending rules.
Singapore industrial production data for August published Friday showed strong improvement, with the level of activity back to around pre-pandemic levels. Output fell 13.7 percent on the year in August after falling a revised 7.6 percent in July and rose 13.9 percent on the month after increasing a revised 2.3 percent previously. This improvement was largely driven by the two largest parts of the sector, the electronics and biomedical industries, but contrasts with PMI survey data which indicate that the overall economic activity contracted at a sharper pace in August.