US stocks advanced on Friday with the tech-heavy Nasdaq hovering near a fresh record high on hopes of a rebound in business activity from a virus-driven downturn, with investors looking past new COVID-19 cases in several US states.

The Nasdaq opened above its all-time closing high on June 10, lifted by shares of the largest US companies by market capitalization, Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

Still, the index, which is rising for the seventeenth time in 20 sessions was a touch away from a new intraday record.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow are about 7 per cent and 11 per cent below their respective record closing highs hit in February.

Oil prices rose above $40 a barrel amid signs of gradual recovery in demand and a promise by oil producers to meet supply cuts, pushing up the S&P energy sector by 1.4 per cent.

“Some investors are using oil prices as a signal with respect to the health of the coming economy,” Mike Zigmont, head of trading & research at Harvest Volatility Management LLC in New York.

Some investors also pointed to a Bloomberg report https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-19/china-plans-to-accele rate-u-s-farm-purchases-after-hawaii-talks?srnd=premium-asia, that said China plans to accelerate the purchase of US farm goods to comply with the Phase 1 trade deal, as a reason for the strength in US stocks.

Risk of a resurgence of the virus outbreak prompting another round of restrictive measures led to choppy trading sessions this week. However, the S&P 500 and the Dow are headed for their fourth weekly rise in five following a strong retail sales report and signs of additional official stimulus.

California, Florida and North Carolina urged mandatory mask use on Thursday as at least six US states set daily records for new coronavirus cases.

Trading volume is expected to spike, especially during the opening and close of Friday’s session on account of “quadruple witching,” as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to expiration.

“I would expect some of these morning gains to get worked off … I don’t think investors are going to be as confident staying long over the weekend as they were two weeks ago,” Zigmont said.

At 11:26 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 154.52 points, or 0.59 per cent, at 26,234.62, the S&P 500 was up 19.04 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 3,134.38. The Nasdaq Composite was up 83.02 points, or 0.83 per cent, at 10,026.07.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc jumped 5.6 per cent on plans to reopen theaters at about 450 locations in the United States next month and the company expects to return to full-seating capacity around Thanksgiving.

Later in the day, US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will participate in a video conference where he will talk about ways to help the workforce better withstand and recover from shocks related to the pandemic.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.57-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.37-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 18 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 111 new highs and one new low.



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