Nasdaq breaks 4,000 level despite weak social media stocks

The Nasdaq Composite index briefly topped the 4,000 level for the first time in 13 years, despite social networks moving lower.

Facebook opened the week off 3.1 per cent to $44.82, adding to a recent retreat by investors following concerns that the company was not faring well in younger demographics.

Shares in the company founded by Mark Zuckerberg remain up 68.4 per cent on the year to date, but have retreated from a rally that pushed the stock as high as $54.83.

Twitter shares were also under pressure, down 4.7 per cent to $39.06 after a report from the Wall Street Journal said that the microblogging platform is manipulated through the creation of fake accounts.

Twitter and Facebook competitor LinkedIn joined the selling, off 1.7 per cent to $216.62. Online review site Yelp was down 6.7 per cent to $58.20 respectively.

However, the Nasdaq was able to shake off those declines to tick up 0.1 per cent to 3,994.57. The tech benchmark briefly moved above 4,000 thanks to help from three of the heaviest weighted stocks on the index: Apple, up 0.8 per cent to $523.74, Amazon, up 1.2 per cent to $376.64, and Google, 1.4 per cent higher to 1,045.93.

The S&P 500 finished fractionally lower on Monday to 1,802.48, but touched a new intraday high of 1,808.10. The healthcare sector was the strongest major area, up 0.4 per cent, while energy dropped 0.8 per cent.

Healthcare providers were boosted by news that a planned Medicare cut to dialysis payments had been avoided. The news helped DaVita HealthCare Partners to lead the S&P with a gain of 8.9 per cent to $61.55. Fresenius Medical Care was up 7.2 per cent to $34.54.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.1 per cent to 16,072.54. Caterpillar shares led the index, up 1.8 per cent to $84.80 on an upgrade from Bank of America from “neutral” to “buy”.

Sears Holdings helped keep the Nasdaq in positive territory with a 7.3 per cent gain to $65.80. The retailer was boosted by reports that the company was in talks to sell its stores in Canada.

Qualcomm also weighed on the Nasdaq. Shares in the chipmaker fell 0.6 per cent to $72.49 after the company said it was under investigation by the Chinese government over a possible breach of the country’s antimonopoly laws.

Aerospace industrial Boeing was off 2.2 per cent to $133.00 after news broke over the weekend that the company had issued a warning about icing issues with some of its new General Electric GEnx engines on some of its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The news is not the first issue with the Dreamliner, which has been the subject of scrutiny due to a series of fires.

News that Walmart’s chief executive is to step down had little effect on the retailer’s shares, which were up 0.8 per cent to $80.43. Current chief Mike Duke will be replaced by Doug McMillon, who has led the company’s international business since 2009.

US banks continued a recent rally, as Citigroup gained 1.7 per cent to $53.29, Goldman Sachs added 0.8 per cent to $169.48, and Bank of America rose 1.1 per cent to $15.81.

Biotechnology company Biogen Idec maintained its recent momentum, up 3.6 per cent to $295.88. The company’s multiple sclerosis drug Tefidera recently received market exclusivity from the EU.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks also touched a record high before retreating a little to sit just lower at 1,124.72. The Russell is one of the best performing leading indices in 2013 along with the Nasdaq, with both up 32 per cent on the year to date. By comparison, the S&P is up 26 per cent, and the Dow sits 22 per cent higher.

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