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US: Nasdaq hits 15-year high, propelled by Amazon, Microsoft


[NEW YORK] The Nasdaq Composite extended its gains in late morning trading on Friday, hitting a 15-year intraday high, propelled by strong results from tech behemoths Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

A majority of the ten S&P sectors rose, with the consumer discretionary index gaining 1.1 per cent on the back of Amazon. The online retailer hit a lifetime high after its revenue beat estimates.

Google gained 3.1 per cent to US$575 after reporting higher quarterly revenue and profit and Microsoft added 8 per cent to US$46.85 after it topped Wall Street estimates.

The Nasdaq rose to 5,099.12, the highest since touching a record of 5,132.52 in March 2000.

"The difference today contrasting with back then is, you have a lot of mature companies like Microsoft, EMC and Intel that can be looked at as almost blue chip companies that pay relatively high dividends," said James Abate, chief investment officer of Centre Funds in New York, comparing the fresh Nasdaq highs with those in 2000, right before the Internet bubble burst.

"The froth really is in social media companies and when you compare it back then, the froth was pretty much everywhere."

At 11:28 am EDT (1528 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was up 12.38 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 18,071.07, the S&P 500 was higher 4.92 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 2,117.85 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 38.47 points, or 0.76 per cent, to 5,094.53.

Xerox slumped as much as 14 per cent to a 52-week low of US$11.32 after it cut its 2015 profit forecast, adding to a growing list of companies that have blamed a strong US currency for weakened results or forecasts.

Comcast abandoned its proposed US$45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable after US regulators said the deal would give Comcast an unfair advantage in the Internet-based services market. Time Warner rose 2.2 per cent to US$152 and Comcast was little changed.

Aerie Pharmaceuticals dived 60 per cent to US$14.11 after the company's lead experimental drug failed to show that it was superior to commonly prescribed eye-drops.

Biogen shares fell 6.1 per cent to US$403.91 after sales of its key oral multiple sclerosis drug fell on a sequential basis in the first quarter for the first time since its launch in 2013.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,477 to 1,364, for a 1.08-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,314 issues fell and 1,249 advanced for a 1.05-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 15 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 73 new highs and 14 new lows.