Australia markets closed

Wall Street ends higher with tech boost

Sinead Carew

Wall Street's three major indexes closed higher with the biggest gains in technology stocks as investors focused on the potential for more government stimulus measures, even as they worried about an increase in coronavirus cases in the US and other countries.

Nasdaq registered its fourth record closing high this month with the biggest boosts from Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

The World Health Organization reported a record rise in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, driving demand for perceived safe havens including gold and longer-term US Treasuries.

While New York City on Monday celebrated the lifting of many coronavirus restrictions, a dozen states in the US south and southwest reported record increases in new cases with 10 to 20 per cent of people testing positive in some.

However White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC there was no second wave of the pandemic and it is unlikely there will be widespread shutdowns across the country.

Investors were also clinging to hopes for more government stimulus after US House of Representatives Democrats on Thursday unveiled a $US1.5 trillion infrastructure bill in the same week that reports emerged of preparations by the Trump administration for an infrastructure stimulus plan.

Edward Jones investment strategist Nela Richardson said hopes for a stimulus package were outweighing fears over the spike in coronavirus cases.

"The good news from last week is dominating the bad news from today, which is the increase in COVID cases," she said, cautioning that government infrastructure spending plans have failed to become reality several times in the recent past.

Richardson said rising virus case numbers spurred a rotation out of sectors hit hardest by coronavirus' economic impacts into more resilient sectors such as technology.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he supported the idea of giving Americans a second round of financial aid because of the virus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 153.5 points on Monday, or 0.59 per cent, to 26,024.96, the S&P 500 gained 20.12 points, or 0.65 per cent, to 3,117.86 and the Nasdaq Composite added 110.35 points, or 1.11 per cent, to 10,056.48.

Of the S&P's 11 major sectors, technology was leading the pack. However the next biggest gainer was the defensive utilities sector.

The market took a step back on Friday after Apple's move to temporarily shut some US stores again underscored concerns of a delay in the recovery.

But Apple shares climbed on Monday and traded at record highs as the company announced new products at its annual conference for software developers.

Travel-related stocks were some of the weakest as those companies have been hit hard in the past by lockdowns.

The S&P 1500 airlines index dropped 1.3 per cent, while shares of cruise operators Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises dropped six per cent.

US-based meat processor Tyson slipped 2.8 per cent as China's customs authority suspended imports of poultry products from a plant owned by the company that had been hit by the coronavirus.

American Airlines fell almost seven per cent as it planned to secure $US3.5 billion in new financing by selling shares and convertible senior notes to boost liquidity.

Virgin Galactic soared just under 16 per cent as it signed up with NASA to develop a program to promote private missions to the International Space Station.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.18-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.19-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 120 new highs and nine new lows.

On US exchanges 10.66 billion shares changed hands compared with the 13.29 billion average for the last 20 sessions.