US STOCKS-S&P 500, Nasdaq scale new highs on stimulus progress, job market rebound
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By Medha Singh and Devik Jain
Feb 5 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs on Friday on signs of progress towards more economic stimulus, while a closely watched jobs report confirmed the labor market was stabilizing.
Still, U.S. employment growth rebounded less than expected in January and job losses in December were deeper than initially thought, strengthening the argument for additional relief money to aid the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. nL1N2KA34D
President Joe Biden's drive to enact a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill gained momentum on Friday with the U.S. House of Representatives set to vote on a budget plan that would allow the passage of the legislation in coming weeks without Republican support. nL1N2KB0TS
"The market has priced in this Goldilocks scenario that we're going to get past COVID and we're all going to go back to normal," said Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas.
"It's just a matter of how quickly that recovery comes."
Economy-linked materials .SPLRCM and energy .SPNY led gains among major S&P sectors. The small-cap Russell 2000 index .RUT, sensitive to the domestic economic outlook, gained 0.8%.
Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N rose 2% after the drugmaker said it had asked U.S. health regulators to authorize its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. nL1N2KA3CR
Stimulus talks, upbeat earnings and progress in vaccine rollouts have bolstered bets of a speedy economic recovery, setting the S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq .IXIC on track for their best weeks since the U.S. election in early November.
A retail trading frenzy also appeared to fade after upending markets last week. Videogame retailer GameStop Corp's GME.N shares, which have shed more than 80% of their value this week, were up 1% at $60.77.
Stronger-than-expected corporate results so far in the fourth quarter have driven up analysts' expectations, and S&P 500 companies are now on track to post earnings growth for the quarter instead of a decline as initially expected. nL1N2K924P
At 9:40 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 148.87 points, or 0.48%, to 31,204.73, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 14.20 points, or 0.37%, to 3,885.94 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC increased 15.83 points, or 0.11%, to 13,793.57.
Chamath Palihapitiya-backed Clover Health Investments Corp CLOV.O said it had received a letter from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission following a critical report published by noted short-selling specialist Hindenburg Research. nL4N2KB36L
Clover's shares dropped about 3%, extending losses from the previous session's 12% plunge.
Activision Blizzard Inc ATVI.O jumped about 12% after the company forecast full-year adjusted revenue above analysts' estimates, driven by strong demand for the latest installment of its blockbuster "Call of Duty" franchise. nL4N2KA4MG
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.3-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.2-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 242 new highs and three new lows.
(Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)
((Devik.Jain@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2062; ;))