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Dow Ends Flat as Energy Slip Offsets Tech Strength

·2-min read

By Yasin Ebrahim - The Dow closed just below the flatline Thursday as strength in tech, led by a rally Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Apple, was offset by weakness in energy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.04%, or 12 points. The S&P 500 was up 0.03%, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.55%. The S&P and Nasdaq closed at record highs.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose 4% as analysts continued to talk up the stock ahead of its quarterly report due Jan. 27.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) raised its price target on Apple to $152 from $144 on expectations that high demand for the iPhone 12 will see unit growth return, while services will get a boost from the work-from-home trend.

"Given positioning into the quarter is muted after the rotation out of high-quality stocks over the past several months, we expect strong follow-through post-earnings and are buyers into the print," Morgan Stanley said.

Intel rallied 6% after the chipmaker reported blowout quarterly earnings and raised its annual dividend by 5%. Shares, however, fell slightly after the close.
Consumer stocks were also among the biggest gainers, led by a jump in Ford.

Ford (NYSE:F) rose 6% ahead of its earnings as investors look ahead to further guidance from automaker on a number of key models including its new EV strategy. Ford reports earnings on Feb. 4.

Energy, however, fell 4% as oil prices fell following data on Wednesday showing a surprise build in weekly U.S. crude supplies.

The sector was also dragged lower by Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), down 3%, after Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) initiated coverage on the oil major at underperform, with a $39 target, on worries over its dividend coverage.

Industrials were in the red, paced by a 6% slump in United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) after the carrier indicated that the recovery in air travel wasn't likely to bounce back as quickly as many expect.

United Airlines said 2021 would be a "transition year that's focused on preparing for a recovery."

American Airlines Group (NASDAQ:AAL), Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), and Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) also traded lower.

In other news, homebuilders rallied after data showed housing starts rose by the fastest pace since 2006. The iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (NYSE:ITB) jumped 1.5%.

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