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* Microsoft crosses $2 trillion in market cap
* Retail darlings Alfi, Torchlight extend declines
* Indexes: Dow and S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.11% (Adds comment, details; updates prices)
June 23 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq hovered near its all-time high on Wednesday, helped by a boost from Tesla shares, with investors cheering data that showed a record peak for U.S. factory activity in June.
Data firm IHS Markit said its flash U.S. manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to a reading of 62.6 this month, beating estimates of 61.5, but manufacturers are still struggling to secure raw materials and qualified workers, substantially raising prices.
The “high level of today’s surveys will provide some confirmation for the Fed that the time to begin taking its foot off the accelerator is not far away,” said Jai Malhi, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
U.S. stocks rose with the Nasdaq notching a record closing peak on Tuesday after Fed Chair Jerome Powell reassured that U.S. the central bank will not raise interest rates too quickly on inflation fears alone.
Powell’s comments follow the Fed’s projection of an increase in interest rates as soon as 2023, sooner than anticipated which sparked a sharp profit booking in the so called “reflation” stocks and triggered a move into tech-heavy growth names.
“As you get this idea that the reopening has been discounted and the recovery growth has been digested by the market, we’re going to go back to a economy that has a slower growth rate,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments.
“In that environment, growth (stocks) will be attractive.”
Seven of the 11 majors S&P sectors rose, with economy-linked industrials, materials and energy among the biggest gainers. Energy jumped 0.4% on the back of higher oil prices.
Tesla Inc gained 4.3% as the electric vehicle maker opened a solar-powered charging station with on-site power storage in China and as bitcoin prices retraced some losses.
At 11:26 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 11.66 points, or 0.03%, at 33,933.92, the S&P 500 was up 1.45 points, or 0.03%, at 4,247.89, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 16.05 points, or 0.11%, at 14,269.32.
Nikola Corp gained 3% after the electric and hydrogen vehicle maker said it is investing $50 million in Wabash Valley Resources LLC to produce clean hydrogen in the U.S. Mid-West for its zero-emission trucks.
Among so-called meme stocks, software firm Alfi Inc dropped 26.8% after more than doubling in value in the prior session, while Torchlight Energy Resources Inc slumped 30.1% for the second day after announcing an upsized stock offering.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.72-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.43-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 30 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 73 new highs and 18 new lows. (Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)