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Qualcomm, Big Tech lift S&P 500, Nasdaq to record highs

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November 4, 2021

By Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes hit a record high on Thursday, propped up by a slew of stellar earnings reports and as investors shrugged off the Federal Reserve’s first steps to begin paring its pandemic-era support.

Shares of Qualcomm Inc jumped 12.6% after the chipmaker forecast better-than-expected profit and revenue for its current quarter on soaring demand for chips used in phones, cars and other internet-connected devices.

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Booking Holdings Inc added 3% after the online travel agent posted upbeat quarterly results.

Electronic Arts Inc and rival Take-Two Interactive Software Inc gained 2.8% and 3.8%, respectively, after they boosted their 2021 adjusted sales forecasts on strong gaming boom.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading, with energy, consumer discretionary and technology rising more than 1% each.

Big banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America slipped more than 1%, while the S&P 500 banks sub-index fell 1.7%.

On Wednesday, a widely expected move by the Fed on announcing its plan to start tapering its monthly bond purchases beginning this month, while staying patient on raising interest rates, also helped sentiment.

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“You have better than expected earnings, a Fed that is following a well telegraphed path and the economic data for the most part has seen some sequential improvement as we start to get the October reports,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“You put all those things together and you get markets ultimately making new highs.”

A cheery third-quarter earnings season, coupled with an upbeat commentary about future growth from corporate America, has helped Wall Street largely dismiss concerns around rising prices, supply chain snags and a mixed macro-economic picture.

Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a fresh 19-month low last week, suggesting the economy was regaining momentum. It will be followed by a more comprehensive nonfarm payrolls report on Friday.

At 10:04 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 19.02 points, or 0.05%, at 36,138.56, the S&P 500 was up 16.98 points, or 0.36%, at 4,677.55, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 98.09 points, or 0.62%, at 15,909.68.

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The CBOE market volatility index, a gauge for investor anxiety, fell to its lowest level since early July.

Tesla Inc added 1.3% to scale new heights, while other mega-cap technology titans Google-owner Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com and Meta Platforms also edged higher.

Merck & Co rose 1% after Britain became the first country in the world to approve its COVID-19 antiviral oral pill jointly developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Moderna Inc dropped 15% after the vaccine maker cut its full-year sales forecast for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen said on Wednesday his fellow House Democrats could complete votes on President Joe Biden’s social spending and infrastructure bills as early as midday on Friday.

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Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.70-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 53 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 144 new highs and 16 new lows.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Maju Samuel)

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U.S. stock futures, oil regain some ground after Omicron battering

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November 29, 2021

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian markets regained a little composure on Monday as investors settled in for a few weeks of uncertainty on whether the Omicron variant would really derail economic recoveries and the tightening plans of some central banks.

Oil prices also bounced $3 a barrel to recoup some of Friday’s shellacking, while the safe haven yen took a breather after its run higher.

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The new variant of concern was found as far afield as Canada and Australia as more countries imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off.

Britain called an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss developments on the virus, although a South African doctor who had treated cases said symptoms of Omicron were so far mild.

“There is a lot we don’t know about Omicron, but markets have been forced to reassess the global growth outlook until we know more,” said Rodrigo Catril, a market strategist at NAB.

“Pfizer expects to know within two weeks if Omicron is resistant to its current vaccine, others suggest it may take several weeks. Until then markets are likely to remain jittery.”

Trading was erratic early on Monday but there were signs of stabilisation as S&P 500 futures added 0.8% and Nasdaq futures 0.9%.

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Both indices suffered their sharpest fall in months on Friday with travel and airline stocks hit particularly hard.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.1% but was off early lows. Likewise, Japan’s Nikkei pared early losses to be down 0.9%.

Bonds gave back some of their gains, with Treasury futures down 11 ticks. The market had rallied sharply as investors priced in the risk of a slower start to rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and less tightening by some other central banks.

Two-year Treasury yields edged up to 0.55%, after falling 14 basis points on Friday in the biggest drop since March last year. Fed fund futures had pushed the first rate rise out by a month or so.

The shift in expectations undermined the U.S. dollar, to the benefit of the safe haven Japanese yen and Swiss franc.

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Early Monday the dollar had steadied somewhat at 113.81 yen, after sliding 1.7% on Friday. The dollar index held at 96.190, after Friday’s 0.7% drop.

The euro paused at $1.1294, following its rally from $1.1203 late last week.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde put a brave face on the latest virus scare, saying the euro zone was better equipped to face the economic impact of a new wave of COVID-19 infections or the Omicron variant.

The economic diary is also busy this week with China’s manufacturing PMIs on Tuesday to offer another update on the health of the Asian giant. The U.S. ISM survey of factories is out on Wednesday, ahead of payrolls on Friday.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speak before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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In commodity markets, oil prices bounced after suffering their largest one-day drop since April 2020 on Friday.

“The move all but guarantees the OPEC+ alliance will suspend its scheduled increase for January at its meeting on 2 December,” wrote analyst at ANZ in a note.

“Such headwinds are the reason it’s been only gradually raising output in recent months, despite demand rebounding strongly.”

Brent rebounded 3.9% to $75.57 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 4.5% to $71.24.

Gold has so far found little in the way of safe haven demand, leaving it stuck at $1,791 an ounce.

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(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Richard Pullin & Shri Navaratnam)

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Nissan Motor to spend $17.6 billion to accelerate electrification

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November 29, 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co said on Monday it will spend 2 trillion yen ($17.59 billion) over the next five years to accelerate vehicle electrification as it bets tighter carbon emission restrictions will spur demand for electric cars and hybrids.

Japan’s No. 3 car maker will introduce 23 electrified vehicles by 2030, including 15 electric vehicles (EV), and plans to introduce all solid-state batteries by March 2029, it said in a statement.

Nissan’s deeper push into battery-powered cars comes as consumer demand for such vehicles grows in key auto markets such as China and the United States and as its competitors release new electric vehicles.

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Although still only a small portion of vehicles on the road, global electric car registrations in 2020 grew 41% even as the overall car market contracted by almost a sixth, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Nissan, like other Japanese car makers, however, has yet to commit to completely abandoning fossil-fuel vehicles.

At the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow this month, major car makers, including General Motors and Ford Motor Co, signed on to a declaration that committed them to phase out fossil fuel vehicles by 2040.

($1 = 113.7000 yen)

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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Shares of Macau casino operator Suncity suspended -HKEX

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November 29, 2021

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares of Suncity Group Holdings Ltd were suspended on Monday after its chief executive was believed to be among 11 people arrested by Macau authorities on Sunday over alleged links to cross-border gambling and money laundering.

The South China Morning Post reported that Macau police said on Sunday a 47-year-old businessman surnamed Chau was among those arrested. Alvin Chau is head of Suncity.

Suncity could not be reached for comment. Shares of the company last closed at HK$0.255.

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(Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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