Tech stocks lead charge ahead of jobless claims

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The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was set for a hot start to the second quarter ahead of the latest data on weekly jobless claims.

Nasdaq futures were higher by 0.91% while S&P 500 futures were up 0.24% and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were little changed.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MSFT MICROSOFT CORP. 235.77 +3.92 +1.69%

In stocks, Microsoft Corp. won a $21.9 billion contract to supply the U.S. Army with augmented reality headsets for the next 10 years.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MU MICRON TECHNOLOGY, INC. 88.21 +1.67 +1.93%
WDC WESTERN DIGITAL CORP. 66.75 +1.29 +1.97%

In deals, Micron Technology Inc. and Western Digital Corp. are each exploring deals for Japanese semiconductor manufacturer Kioxia Holdings Corp. that would value the company at about $30 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Kioxia is also looking into a possible initial public offering, the report said.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AMD ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. 78.50 +2.50 +3.29%
INTC INTEL CORP. 64.00 +0.23 +0.36%

The news lifted shares of other semiconductors, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
F FORD MOTOR CO. 12.29 -0.18 -1.44%

Elsewhere, Ford Motor Co. said it will cut production at seven North American plants due to the global chip shortage. The company will provide updated guidance on April 28.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JNJ JOHNSON & JOHNSON 164.62 -0.50 -0.30%
EBS EMERGENT BIOSOLUTIONS 92.91 +2.61 +2.89%

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson shares slipped after a batch of its COVID-19 vaccine was discovered to have a problem in the manufacturing process overseen by Emergent BioSolutions Inc. The company did not reveal how many doses were ruined.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
PFE PFIZER INC. 36.23 +0.12 +0.33%

Pfizer Inc. announced its COVID-19 vaccine was found to be 91% effective against the South African variant. The drug manufacturer said it plans to seek full regulatory approval from U.S. regulators.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil climbed $1.04 to $60.20 per barrel and gold ticked down $1.20 to $1,714.40 an ounce.

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Overseas markets were broadly higher.

Britain’s FTSE 100 was out front in Europe, trading up 0.52%, while Germany’s DAX 30 and France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.29% and 0.21%, respectively.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index surged 1.97%, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rallied 0.72% and China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.71%.

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