Nasdaq at Record Close; Salesforce Down on Slack Deal Talks

Nasdaq hits a record close Wednesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 ease back from closing records.

Stocks on Wednesday finished mixed, with the Nasdaq closing at a record, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 easing from Tuesday's record closes, and weekly jobless claims rising in consecutive weeks for the first time since the summer.

The Nasdaq closed up 0.48% at a record 12,094. The Dow ended down 173 points, or 0.58%, to 29,872, while the S&P 500 declined 0.16% to 3,629.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said Wednesday afternoon that he had granted a “full pardon” to his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.  (CRM) - Get Report ended down 5.4% on a report from The Wall Street Journal that the company has been holding talks to buy Slack Technologies  (WORK) - Get Report. Slack shares jumped 38%.

The Federal Reserve, in the minutes from its Nov. 4-5 meeting, discussed whether to adjust its bond buying strategy.

“Many participants judged that the Committee might want to enhance its guidance for asset purchases fairly soon,” according to minutes from the central bank's minutes that were published Wednesday. The Fed currently has been buying $120 billion a month of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities.

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose to 778,000 in the week ended Nov. 21, from a revised 748,000 the previous week and ahead of economists' forecasts of 730,000.

"Total initial claims (non-seasonally adjusted) rose for the second week in a row, making both direction and magnitude a concern," said AnnElizabeth Konkel, Indeed Hiring Lab's economist. 

"An uptick this far into the crisis underscores that the coronavirus continues to batter the economy, and the magnitude of initial claims shows no respite from new damage. 

"Total weekly initial claims have still not yet fallen below 1 million at any point during the pandemic," Konkel added.

The second reading on U.S. gross domestic product, meanwhile, came in at 33.1%, matching the initial estimate from last month, which was the best quarterly gain on record. Durable goods orders in October rose 1.3%, higher than consensus of 0.8%.

“We remain on fragile footing heading into the winter as cases continue to climb globally,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade. 

“And since the markets are forward looking, this data will likely be taken in stride. The markets tend to cheer on certainty, so the presidential transition and vaccine developments are two factors it’s latched onto lately.”

Stocks finished higher Tuesday and the Dow closed above 30,000 for the first time as President-elect Joe Biden was given the go-ahead to formally begin his transition and Wall Street bet on more fiscal stimulus. Reports said former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen would be nominated for Treasury secretary.

U.S. stock markets will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday, and will close at 1 p.m. ET on Friday.

Gap  (GPS) - Get Report finished down 20% Wednesday after sales at the retailer's namesake brand and Banana Republic dropped sharply in the third quarter.