Overnight Markets: Tech, media shares lift Nasdaq to new record

The Nasdaq composite jumped to an all-time high on Thursday led by technology and media shares as the European Central Bank said it would avoid raising interest rates until mid-2019.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 26 points, or 0.1%, to 25,175, the S&P 500 gained seven points, or 0.25%, to 2,782 and the Nasdaq Composite added 65 points, or 0.85%, to 7,761.

The ECB announced it would end its bond-purchase programme at year-end but signalled that any interest rate hike was still distant.

In the US, economic data showed better-than-expected retail sales figures and unemployment rolls falling to a near 44-1/2 year low. This came a day after the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate and hinted at the possibility of two more hikes by the end of this year.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq was boosted by Facebook, which also reached a record high. Netflix and Alphabet contributed to the index’s gains. Microsoft Corp advanced 0.6% on news that it was working on technology to automate retail purchases in a challenge to Amazon.com.

Twenty-First Century Fox was up 2.1% after Comcast offered $65 billion in an effort to out-bid Walt Disney Co’s merger offer by 20%. Comcast shares rose 4.6%, while Disney gained 1.3%.

Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, seven ended the session in positive territory and one was unchanged on the day. Utilities, consumer discretionary and telecommunications showed the biggest sector gains.

The rate-sensitive financial sector was the biggest percentage loser of the S&P 500, led by a 1.8% decline in JP Morgan Chase shares, as US Treasury yields fell on news that the ECB would be holding rates steady for longer than many investors expected. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley also fell.

In Asia, share markets surged on Friday

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