Facebook fuels S&P 500 to record high close

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A trader walks outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York City

By Noel Randewich and Shivani Kumaresan

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday, fueled by gains in Facebook following its strong earnings report, while Amazon jumped in extended trade following its quarterly report.

Facebook Inc rallied 7.3% to an all-time high after the world’s largest social network beat quarterly revenue and profit late on Wednesday. It was its biggest single-day gain in five months and easily contributed the most upside to both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

The communication services index led the 11 sectors higher with a 2.75% gain, boosted by Facebook and Alphabet.

Apple Inc dipped 0.07% despite late on Wednesday posting sales and profit ahead of Wall Street estimates on strong iPhone and Mac sales.

“Investors are really looking for significantly outsized results, and also outsized guidance as they look ahead to upcoming quarters,” said Greg Bassuk, chief executive of AXS Investments. “We believe a lot of optimism has already been baked into the market, and we are cautioning investors to expect significant volatility.”

In extended trade, Amazon jumped 3% after reporting quarterly sales that beat analysts’ expectations as the e-commerce giant continued to benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic-driven online shopping boom.

Also after the bell, Twitter tumbled 9% following its quarterly report, with the company warning about rising costs and slower growth.

Of the 265 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported so far, 87% have topped analysts’ earnings estimates, with Refinitiv IBES data now predicting a 45% jump in profit growth.

U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fueled by massive government aid to households and businesses, while a labor market report showed 553,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week, compared with 566,000 in the prior period.

Caterpillar Inc dipped about 2% after it reported higher quarterly earnings but warned of supply-chain bottlenecks.

Drugmaker Merck & Co Inc slid 4.4% after posting a drop in quarterly profit.

McDonald’s rose 1.2% after the burger chain beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly comparable sales and said it returned to pre-pandemic levels of growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.71% to end at 34,060.36 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.68% to 4,211.47.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.22% to 14,082.55.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.5 billion shares, compared with the 9.9 billion full-session average over the last 20 trading days.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.08-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.19-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 120 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 150 new highs and 30 new lows.

The S&P 500 is now up 12% in 2021, while the Nasdaq has gained 9%.

(Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru, and by Noel Randewich in Oakland, Calif.; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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