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Nasdaq sets record as Amazon, Facebook hit all-time highs

CNBC logo CNBC 7/12/2018 Fred Imbert and Silvia Amaro

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The major stock indexes rebounded Thursday as a rally in some of Wall Street's largest technology names carried the Nasdaq to an all-time high at the start of the corporate earnings season. 

The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed nearly 1.4 percent higher as Facebook and Amazon both rose to all-time highs. Microsoft and Alphabet hit intraday records. Netflix did not participate in the broad tech rally, however, falling more than 1 percent. 

The Dow gained 224 points, with Cisco Systems and Intel leading. The S&P 500 added almost 0.9 percent, with tech and industrials outperforming. 

Equities rebounded from a steep sell-off Wednesday sparked by a potential escalation in a trade war between the U.S. and China. Tuesday, the U.S. unveiled a list targeting $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for a 10 percent import tariff. Stocks fell sharply on the news, with the Dow snapping a four-day winning streak.

Eric Freedman, chief investment officer at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said the lack of an immediate response by China is a positive for the market. He also noted that, while these tariffs are aimed at several Chinese imports, "the mixture of goods is different from that of the first round of tariffs. Also, they don't come into effect until August." 

The Chinese commerce ministry said Thursday that China has not been in touch with the U.S. about restarting trade talks, but noted that China does not want a trade war. A spokesman for the ministry said, however, China does not fear a trade war. 

Last week, the U.S. slapped tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods. China responded to the tariffs by imposing its own retaliatory levies on imports from the States. 

Investors also shifted their focus toward earnings and data, taking a breather from trade war concerns. On the earnings front, Delta Air Lines reported better-than-expected quarterly results. Wall Street expects strong numbers from Corporate America, with FactSet forecasting 20 percent earnings growth for the second quarter.

"It will be healthy for the market to take a breather and let the earnings catch up to the price," said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer at Exencial Wealth Advisors. "The market is being driven by news lately." He also said he expects this earnings season to be a strong one.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 214,000 last week and the consumer price index rose at its fastest pace in six years.

Equities also rallied on dealmaking activity as Broadcom agreed to buy CA Technologies for $18.9 billion in cash. The deal values CA stock at about $44.50 per share, about 20 percent above the stocks close on Wednesday. CA shares surged nearly 20 percent, while Broadcom’s stock dropped more than 14 percent. 

NBCUniversal-parent Comcast, meanwhile, increased its bid for British television group Sky to $34 billion, topping a $32.5 billion offer made by Twenty-First Century Fox. 

This could be the start of a record year for dealmaking, according to J.P. Morgan’s co-head of mergers and acquisitions Chris Ventresca. In an interview with CNBC, Ventresca said “With every day that goes by, they have a strengthening portfolio and balance sheet.”


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