Nasdaq Closes at Record, Stocks Mixed on Worry Over Virus Impact on Growth

Stocks end mixed as coronavirus infections spike and countries threaten stricter lockdowns.
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Stocks finished mixed Friday as a spike in coronavirus infections and the possibility of stricter lockdowns offset expectations of more economic support from the Biden administration.

The Nasdaq closed at a record for a second day, edging up 0.09% to 13,543. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 179 points, or 0.57%, to 31,996 on Friday, and the S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 3,841. 

For the week, the Dow rose 0.6%, the S&P 500 gained 1.9% and the Nasdaq jumped 4.2%.

Limiting downside Friday was a report from IHS Markit that showed business activity in the U.S., particularly from manufacturers, increased at the start of the year, and a surprise gain in sales of previously owned homes during December.

Shares of Intel  (INTC) - Get Report were fell 9.3% after the chipmaker posted fourth-quarter earnings and an outlook higher than Wall Street estimates but said it planned to manufacture most chips internally by 2023.

Many investors, including activist Dan Loeb, have suggested that Intel consider spinning off its manufacturing business. 

International Business Machines  (IBM) - Get Report fell 9.9% Friday after the computer giant's earnings beat Wall Street estimates but revenue came up short.

Revenue at IBM fell for a fourth straight quarter and sales for the year declined 4.6%.

Stocks finished mixed Thursday, with the S&P 500 rising slightly but enough to set another record. The Nasdaq also set a closing high.

President Joe Biden, who has been pushing a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package that includes direct stimulus payments to Americans, enhanced jobless benefits and funds for vaccine deployment, unveiled a national strategy to tackle the virus.

Biden's plan starts with a national vaccination campaign to meet the new administration's goal of immunizing 100 million people during the president's first 100 days in office.

He also signed executive orders that call for masks to be worn in airports, trains, planes, ships and intercity buses. The president predicted that the national death toll from Covid-19 would top 500,000 next month.

"Our national strategy is comprehensive, it's based on science, not politics. It's based on truth, not denial, and it's detailed," Biden said Thursday at the White House.

On Friday, Biden signed two executive orders intended to aid American families who are struggling due to the pandemic. 

One order will expand the food-stamp program, while the other will allow workers who fear their jobs jeopardize their health to qualify for unemployment insurance if they quit.

"We cannot, will not let people go hungry,” the president said. “We cannot watch people lose their jobs. We have to act.”

Stocks in Europe tumbled Friday after leaders there warned that new strains of the virus could lead to longer and stricter lockdowns and manufacturing activity slowed.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was “some evidence” a new covid variant first could be deadlier than the original strain.