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S&P 500 trading near flat, lingering below record highs

imageStock Markets5 hours ago (Aug 14, 2020 03:35PM ET)

(C) Reuters. The Fearless Girl statue is seen outside the NYSE in New York

By Caroline Valetkevitch

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 was near flat, hovering below record highs, on Friday as data showed the U.S. economy was still hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to uncertainty over the recovery.

Aggressive stimulus measures have helped the three main U.S. stock indexes bounce back from a coronavirus-driven crash in March, and the S&P 500 briefly traded above its Feb. 19 record close for a second straight day on Thursday.

But the index has been unable to finish above the record, partly as prospects of more fiscal aid have faded with the Senate and House of Representatives in recess and no fresh talks scheduled.

“Investors are taking a pause. We’ve advanced pretty far off of the March 23 lows, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty with regard to the overall economy, as well as the increase in case count that we’ve seen over the past month or so,” said Brian Price, head of investments for Commonwealth Financial Network.

“I think the market is going to tread water here for a little bit.”

Data on Friday showed U.S. retail sales increased less than expected last month and could slow further due to spiraling COVID-19 cases and a reduction in unemployment benefit checks.

Separately, readings showed that U.S. factory output increased more than expected in July, but remained below pre-pandemic levels while consumer sentiment was largely steady in the first half of August.

The upcoming U.S. presidential election is adding another layer of caution, along with continued outbreaks of the virus in parts of the United States.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20.38 points, or 0.07%, to 27,917.1, the S&P 500 lost 1.52 points, or 0.05%, to 3,371.91 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 33.64 points, or 0.3%, to 11,008.87.

The benchmark S&P 500 was still set to rise for a third straight week.

Shares of German biotechnology firm CureVac BV surged in their Nasdaq debut, marking the first stock market launch by a company developing a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Applied Materials Inc (NASDAQ:AMAT) gained 3.4% after it forecast fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates following a rebound in demand for chip equipment and services.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.13-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 45 new highs and eight new lows.

(Addditional reporting by Ambar Warrick and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

S&P 500 trading near flat, lingering below record highs

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