US technology stocks recover after early stumble

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US stocks climbed on Thursday even as European shares hit a three-month low, with investors weighing the latest data on how coronavirus is affecting different regions of the global economy.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index fell as much as 1 per cent after the opening bell on Wall Street before recovering to end the day 0.4 per cent higher. The large-cap S&P 500 also reversed early losses to trade 0.3 per cent higher. Shares in Microsoft gained 1.4 per cent while Apple stock closed the day 1 per cent higher.

US stocks received a boost after Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, said she was “ready for negotiation” on a new coronavirus relief plan. Congressional leaders and the White House have so far failed to agree more fiscal stimulus for the US economy, and talks stalled several weeks ago.

US home sales reached an annualised rate of more than 1m in August, exceeding analyst estimates of 870,000, according to data on Thursday. But there was also a rise in the number of Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits last week.

Thursday’s choppy start followed a US sell-off on Wednesday, in which the Nasdaq shed 3 per cent. The index had soared 65 per cent from April to its high in August before a sell-off.

The S&P 500, meanwhile, has fallen 9 per cent from its August peak, reducing the index’s gains for 2020 to just 1 per cent.

It had been “surprising” how much equities had rallied “against the backdrop of the virus”, said Johanna Kyrklund, chief investment officer at the fund manager Schroders. “The easy part of the recovery has happened now. It’s all about what happens from here.”

In Europe, the region-wide Stoxx 600 index fell 1 per cent to close at its lowest