Dow Jones hits record but Nasdaq slumps on higher US Treasury yields

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The Dow Jones index has climbed to a record high, but the Nasdaq fell as it was weighed down by big-name tech stocks. 

Banks and industrial stocks boosted the Dow Jones index as worries about the COVID-19 Omicron variant eased.

The World Health Organization said more evidence is emerging that the Omicron variant caused milder symptoms than previous variants. 

The S&P 500 also reached a record high before falling back on a weaker technology sector.

The Nasdaq Composite was dragged down by Amazon, Microsoft, Nvidia and Tesla on the prospect of higher interest rates, which increase borrowing costs for growth stocks like technology firms. 

US Treasury yields rose overnight indicating investors expected higher interest rates. 

At 7:20am AEDT, the Dow Jones index rose 0.7 per cent to 36,849, the S&P 500 fell 3 points to 4,794 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 1.5 per cent to 15,599.

Australian shares are expected to open little changed after reaching new records yesterday. 

At 7:15am AEDT, the Australian dollar was up 0.7 per cent to 72.43 US cents, while the ASX SPI 200 index was down 0.1 per cent to 7,611. 

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York said investors were hopeful that Omicron cases would peak soon. 

 “We do know that the seasonality of the first several days of a new year brings in new money.”

 “While we know (Omicron) is transmitting very rapidly, the symptoms seem to be far less severe,” he said.

Travel stocks rose including airlines and cruise lines, and banks also gained ground on the S&P 500.

Car maker Ford jumped 11 per cent after it said it would nearly double annual production capacity for its F-150 Lightning electric pick-up to 150,000 vehicles.

Technology stocks are being hit because of expectations that US interest rates will rise this year to combat a surge in inflation. 

The US central bank said last month it would be ending its pandemic-era bond buying in 2022, signalling at least three rate hikes for the year.

Economic data showed US manufacturing slowed in December amid some cooling in demand for goods according to the Institute for Supply Management. 

But it said supply constraints were starting to ease and prices paid by factories for raw materials fell by the most in a decade.

In the UK, manufacturing activity grew slightly faster than expected, while in China factory production expanded at the fastest pace in six months. 

European markets

European stock markets gained with the European STOXX 600 climbing to a new record high. 

The FTSE 100 rose 1.6 per cent to 7,506, the DAX in Germany rose 0.8 per cent to 16,153, and the CAC 40 in Paris rose 1.4 per cent to 7,317.

Oil prices gained after oil producers group OPEC agreed to a planned production increase on the basis that Omicron would not significantly hurt demand for energy. 

Brent crude rose 1.4 per cent to $US80.12 a barrel. 

Spot gold put on 0.7 per cent to $US1814.17 an  ounce.