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S&P 500 crosses 4,000 for the first time ever

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S&P 500 crosses 4,000 for the first time ever

The S&P 500 breached the 4,000 mark for the first time Thursday, powered by gains in technology shares and optimism about a pickup in global economic activity.

A mammoth vaccination drive and a massive fiscal stimulus are expected to drive a recovery in the labor market, prompting investors to look past latest data that showed a rise in the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits last week.

The closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday could show the US economy added 647,000 jobs in March, on top of a 379,000 increase in February.

The 4,000 level “could be a possible inflection point where it renews confidence that this bull cycle is not over and that equities can remain resilient in the face of heightened interest rates and perhaps a not as extremely accommodative Fed policy,” said Matt Hanna, portfolio manager at Summit Global Investments.

It took the benchmark index about a year-and-a-half to close the 1,000-point gap to 4,000, compared with about five years from 2,000 to 3,000 points.

The blue-chip Dow is just 1 percent shy off a record high. The Nasdaq, however, is about 5 percent below its all-time high as a rapid rise in U.S. bond yields accelerated a rotation from richly-valued tech stocks to underpriced economy-linked stocks.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors rose, with technology , communication services and energy gaining more than 1 percent.

“April is usually a pretty good month for the market historically and I would expect that momentum to continue especially as we see the economy strengthen,” said Larry Adam, chief investment officer at Raymond James.

Micron Technology jumped 4.6 percent after the chipmaker forecast fiscal third-quarter revenue above Wall Street estimates due to higher demand for memory chips, thanks to 5G smartphones and artificial intelligence software.

US-listed shares of rival Taiwan Semiconductor rose 3.8 percent on its plan to invest $100 billion over the next three years to meet the rising chip demand.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq jumped 1.48 percent as “high flying” stocks including Amazon, Apple, Google-parent Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook added between 1.1 percent and 2.4 percent.

At 10:34 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 123.69 points, or 0.38 percent, at 33,105.24, the S&P 500 was up 33.86 points, or 0.85 percent, at 4,006.84.

The three main indexes are set to close out a holiday-shortened week with gains, led by Nasdaq. U.S. stock markets will remain shut for Good Friday holiday.

The CBOE volatility index slipped below 18 points for the first time in 14 months, a level last seen before the coronavirus-driven global financial market meltdown in March 2020.

Johnson & Johnson fell 0.5 percent after the drugmaker said it had found a problem with a batch of the drug substance for its COVID-19 vaccine being produced by Emergent Biosolutions, whose shares tumbled 14 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.80-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.0-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 20 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 99 new highs and 22 new lows.

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Domino’s to start robot pizza deliveries in Houston this week

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Domino's to start robot pizza deliveries in Houston this week

Domino’s Pizza will be delivering pies with the help of driverless robot cars as part of a pilot in Houston beginning this week.

The largest pizza chain in the US is partnering with Nuro, a self-driving delivery company that has raised more than $1 billion from investors including Softbank, and which received regulatory approval last year to begin unmanned deliveries.

The companies announced their partnership in 2019, but the pilot for the service launches this week, the companies said on Monday.

Nuro also launched a pilot in Houston with CVS last year to deliver prescriptions to consumers and it has been working with Walmart and Kroger as well.

The collaboration with Domino’s comes amid a severe shortage of drivers available for food delivery, Nuro told Reuters in a statement.

Consumers who are part of the pilot — which is being run out of the Woodland Heights Domino’s — can track the vans’ route via text alerts. They pre-pay for their delivery online and once the vans arrive they use a PIN code to retrieve their order from the vans, which are smaller than a regular vehicle. The ceiling doors open upwards and the pie is presented to the customer.

“There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space,” Domino’s chief innovation officer, Dennis Maloney said in a statement. “This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations.”

Houston, the fourth-largest US city, has one of the country’s highest road fatality rates. “Houston’s roadways create challenging scenarios for our technology to work with,” said Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partner relations.

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Microsoft in talks to buy Nuance Communications: report

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Microsoft in talks to buy Nuance Communications: report

Microsoft is in advanced talks to buy artificial intelligence and speech technology company Nuance Communications for about $16 billion, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The price being discussed could value Nuance at about $56 a share, the source said, adding that an agreement could be announced as soon as Monday. Nuance shares closed Friday at $45.58.

Bloomberg News, which first reported the deal (paywall) between Nuance and Microsoft, said talks are ongoing and the discussions could still fall apart.

Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance whose voice recognition technology helped launch Apple’s assistant Siri, makes software for sectors ranging from healthcare to the automotive industries.

The deal with Nuance would be Microsoft’s second-biggest deal, after its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016.

Microsoft and Nuance did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

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Soho House club chain reportedly files for New York IPO

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Soho House club chain reportedly files for New York IPO

Soho House — the London-based group of posh private clubs — is planning to go public across the pond, a new report says.

The British company filed confidential paperwork with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange at a valuation of more than $3 billion, the UK’s Sky News reported Thursday.

The filing comes about three years after the iconic chain last mulled plans for an IPO in 2018, according to reports from the time.

The latest bid has been in the works since at least February, when The Times of London reported that Soho House had hired Wall Street stalwarts JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley as it looked to take advantage of the frothy US stock market.

The company raised a batch of private funding last summer but decided to pursue more capital through the public market as it expands, according to Sky News.

Soho House declined to comment Thursday.

Soho House runs 27 clubs in 10 countries, including three in New York City, along with event venues and a group of co-working spaces dubbed “Soho Works.

The chain’s business has reportedly held up through the coronavirus crisis. Just about 10,000 of its 110,000 members — whose ranks include Prince Harry and supermodel Kate Moss — canceled their memberships even as the pandemic shuttered its venues, the Financial Times reported last year.

While Soho House shares its name with the London neighborhood where its first club opened in 1995, the company is mostly owned by billionaire American investor Ron Burkle.

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