The S&P 500 and Dow dropped sharply on Thursday as investors worried about the new round of shutdowns to contain a surge in coronavirus cases, but Nasdaq ignored those concerns ended at another record high – the 26th this year.
The US saw more than 60,000 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, yet another unwanted single-day record while California, Florida, and Texas each reported record infections and a record one-day increase in deaths.
In fact, the US reported more than 900 deaths on Wednesday for the second day in a row and the highest for some time.
Reuters says that Governors in California, Florida, and Texas have either ruled out ordering most businesses to close and residents to stay home or said it would be a last resort. So far closures have been limited to bars, beaches, and a few other types of businesses.
At the same time, investors also started focusing on the start of the US earnings season for the June quarter which kicks off with reports from the five major banks.
A fall in first time jobless claims to a still-high 1.3 million last week (the lowest for four months) did little to settle the growing unease about the still-rising tide of COVID-19 infections across 41 of America’s 50 states.
The Dow fell 361.19 points, or 1.38%, to 25,706.09, the S&P 500 lost 17.89 points, or 0.56%, to 3,152.05 but the Nasdaq added 55.25 points, or 0.53%, to 10,547.75.
The Nasdaq’s record high, however, helped by gains in Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple.
The good day for major commodities on Wednesday didn’t last – while copper rose, gold, silver, oil and iron ore all fell.
For the ASX, the loss at the start of trading was 25 points at 7 am Sydney time down a few points from earlier in the session and a sign that the bullishness from Thursday is still around – despite the continuing problems in Melbourne and Victoria.
The ASX 200 rose 0.6% or 35 points on Thursday in what looked like an act of bravado with Victoria still locked down, despite the ending of testing in a number of public housing high rises in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, commodities weakened as the US dollar edged higher, although the Aussie dollar traded to just over 70 US cents in the session before settling around 69.60 US cents at 7 am.
Gold futures ended lower on Thursday, retreating after scoring another settlement at the highest since September 2011.
But it held ground above $US1,800 an ounce after data showed the US weekly US jobless claims data was released.
Jobless claims numbers fell by almost 100,000 to a four-month low of 1.31 million in the week ended July 4. T
Comex August gold fell $US16.80, or 0.9%, to settle at $US1,803.80 an ounce, a day after the most-active contract rose 0.6% to settle at $US1,820.60, the highest since September14, 2011.
Prices on Thursday hit a low of $US1,799.60. Meanwhile, Comex September silver lost 20 cents, or 1%, at $US18.962 an ounce, following its 2.5%jump on Wednesday to the highest level for a most-active contract since September 2019.
Elsewhere on Comex, September copper rose 0.5%, to settle at $US2.8385 a pound.
In oil, August West Texas Intermediate crude fell by $US1.28, or 3.1%, to settle at $US39.62 a barrel in New York after Wednesday’s gain of 0.7%.
In Europe, the global benchmark Brent oil for September lost 94 cents, or 2.2%, at $US42.35 a barrel.
Prices for both WTI and Brent on Wednesday were their highest settlements since March 6.
And iron ore prices eased a touch with the price of 62% Fe fines delivered to northern China ending down 18 cents to $US106.32a tonne.