S&P 500 hits record close

·2-min read

The S&P 500 has surged to its first-ever close above the 4000 mark, lifted by gains in Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet as well as optimism about a recovering US economy.

Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Nvidia jumped 1 per cent or more, with those and other growth stocks showing signs of awakening after recently lagging behind so-called value stocks expected to outperform as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week.

However other data showed a measure of manufacturing activity soared to its strongest level in more than 37 years in March, with employment at factories the highest since February 2018.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 0.53 per cent to end at 33,155.85 points, while the S&P 500 gained 1.19 per cent to 4,020.07.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.76 per cent to 13,480.28.

With its latest record, the S&P 500 was up about 7 per cent in 2021 and it has gained 80 per cent from its low in March 2020.

"We're still bullish for this year and we think that with stimulus, with the Fed committed to being dovish, with the economy reopening due to more of the US getting vaccinated, overall you're going see corporate earnings do pretty well," said King Lip at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco.

The Nasdaq remained about 5 per cent below its February 12 record high close, still smarting after higher US bond yields hurt technology stocks.

Most S&P sectors rose, with technology, communication services and energy gaining more than 1 per cent.

Micron Technology jumped after the chipmaker forecast fiscal third-quarter revenue above Wall Street estimates due to higher demand for memory chips, thanks to 5G smartphones and AI software.

US-listed shares of rival Taiwan Semiconductor rose after it said it will invest $US100 billion ($A131 billion) over three years to meet rising chip demand.

US stock markets will close on Good Friday for the holiday.

The CBOE volatility index slipped below 18 points for the first time in 14 months, a level last seen before the coronavirus-driven global financial market meltdown in March 2020.

Johnson & Johnson fell after the drugmaker said it had found a problem with a batch of the drug substance for its COVID-19 vaccine being produced by Emergent Biosolutions , whose shares tumbled.