Wall Street mixed as S&P 500 heads for best August since 1984

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 hovered near record highs on Monday as bets on a rebound in economic activity due to prolonged central bank support put the index on course for its best August in more than three decades.

The Federal Reserve’s commitment to tolerate inflation and keep interest rates low, positive developments in vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and a rally in tech-focused stocks have helped the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit consecutive all-time highs.

However, more than half of the benchmark index’s 505 constituents are still in the red year-to-date.

The newly reshuffled Dow slipped, and was within 3.8% of its record close on Feb. 12, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed another 0.8% to a new peak.

New entrants to the blue-chip index, Salesforce.com Inc, Honeywell International Inc and Amgen Inc, slipped between 0.5% and 2.1%.

Ousted companies Exxon Mobil Corp fell 1.6%, while Pfizer Inc and Raytheon Technologies Corp saw muted trading.

“It’s back to Nasdaq leadership and profit taking in other parts of the market,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.

“I worry that sentiment has gotten frothy and there’s a lot of money in the market that doesn’t see any downside risk.”

High-flying Apple Inc rose 4.0%, while Tesla Inc jumped 8.4%, as their stocks became less costly after their pre-announced stock splits took effect.

Technology and consumer discretionary stocks outperformed among the major S&P sectors.

The three main indexes are also set for their fifth straight monthly rise following March lows, with the S&P 500 looking at its biggest percentage rise in August since 1984, even as economic data pointed to an uneven recovery from the steep downturn.

U.S. presidential campaigns are set to take center-stage in the coming weeks with market volatility expected to spike ahead of polling in November.

At 1:08 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 223.48 points, or 0.78%, at 28,430.39 and the S&P 500 was down 1.67 points, or 0.05%, at 3,506.34. The Nasdaq Composite was up 89.53 points, or 0.77%, at 11,785.16.

Aimmune Therapeutics Inc’s shares more than doubled after Swiss food group Nestle SA offered to pay $2 billion for full ownership of the peanut allergy treatment maker.

Suitors for TikTok’s U.S. assets, Microsoft Corp, Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp, dropped between 0.9% and 2.3% as China’s new rules around tech exports meant a deal with ByteDance could need Beijing’s approval.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.05-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.58-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 31 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 76 new highs and 18 new lows.

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