Tech titans Apple and Microsoft push Wall Street higher

(Reuters) – Wall Street rose on Friday, led higher by Apple and Microsoft as investors finished a turbulent week of trading and some states prepared to relax coronavirus-related lockdowns.

FILE PHOTO: A man crosses a nearly deserted Nassau Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the financial district of lower Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Apple (AAPL.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) each climbed more than 1%, lifting the S&P 500 more than any other companies. The two tech titans are on tap to report their March-quarter results next week, giving investors a glimpse at how the pandemic has affected their global businesses.

Boeing Co (BA.N) tumbled 5.6% after a report the planemaker was planning to cut 787 Dreamliner output by about half.

All of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes moved up, with information technology .SPLRCT jumping 1.3% and consumer discretionary .SPLRCD rallying 1.2%.

Even with Friday’s gains, the S&P 500 was on course to end the week lower, with investors fearful of a deep economic slump following a near-crash in April business activity and weekly jobless claims topping 26 million in five weeks.

The index has recovered more than 25% from its March low and expectations are growing that more businesses will be allowed to reopen as coronavirus infections showed signs of peaking.

Georgia became the first state to push ahead with its plan to allow an array of small businesses to reopen on Friday despite disapproval from President Donald Trump and health experts.

Investors may be overestimating how quickly U.S. businesses can go back to normal, and the S&P 500 could fall 5% or more as it becomes evident that resuming normal economic activity may not happen for months, warned Eric Freedman, chief investment officer at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in North Carolina.

“We think this is likely to be a little bit of a sideways market, and we won’t be surprised to see a bit of downside before we see more upside,” Freedman said.

Overall, analysts still expect a 15% decline in S&P 500 first-quarter earnings, with profits for the energy sector estimated to slump more than 60%, raising fears of debt defaults, layoffs and possible bankruptcies.

New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly rose in March, but the gains are not likely to be sustainable amid the pandemic, which has abruptly shut down the economy and contributed to a collapse in crude oil prices.

The CBOE volatility index , known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was down for the third straight session.At 2:28 pm ET (1828 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 0.55% at 23,643.48 points, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.84% to 2,821.41.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 1.05% to 8,583.87.

Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) declined 0.4% after it lost 68,000 phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill in the first quarter.

American Express Co (AXP.N) dipped 0.9% after posting a 76% drop in first-quarter profit as the credit card issuer braced for potential losses stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.44-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week high and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 29 new highs and 11 new lows.

Reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco and C Nivedita and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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