Wall Street climbs as hopes of economic revival overshadow jump in virus cases

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s major indexes edged higher in choppy trading on Wednesday, supported by technology shares as early signs of an economic rebound overrode fears of another lockdown due to a jump in coronavirus cases across the country.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) provided the biggest boost to all three indexes. The technology index .SPLRCT rose 1.1%, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors.

“People are debating whether or not the low in the economy has actually been reached so they’re sticking with growth stocks and that’s technology,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

Safe-haven gold rose nearly 1% as the number of confirmed U.S. cases surpassed 3 million, affecting nearly one of every 100 Americans. California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas broke their previous daily record highs for new infections.

The S&P 500 has been in a tight trading range since early June after it rose more than 45% from its March lows as investors weighed a string of upbeat economic data including record job additions and a rebound in the service sector in June, against a domestic surge in coronavirus cases.

Markets also appeared to be in a wait-and-watch mode before the beginning of the second-quarter earnings season, which kicks off next week with reports from the big Wall Street banks.

Quarterly earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to decline about 44% year-on-year, the steepest drop since the 2008 financial crisis, according to IBES Refinitiv data.

“Wall Street is looking ahead to 2021 earnings and pretty much ignoring 2020,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

At 12:34 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 38.21 points, or 0.15%, at 25,928.39, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 9.53 points, or 0.30%, at 3,154.85. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 96.05 points, or 0.93%, at 10,439.94.

Biogen Inc (BIIB.O) jumped 5.2% after the company said it submitted the marketing application for its experimental Alzheimer’s disease therapy, aducanumab.

Allstate Corp (ALL.N) slipped 3.7% as the U.S. insurer said it would buy National General Holdings Corp (NGHC.O) for about $4 billion, scaling up its auto insurance business. National General shares surged 64.6%.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.12-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.02-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 16 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 84 new highs and 16 new lows.

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