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Nasdaq scale record highs as Netflix jumps; Biden takes office

Kitco News

* Netflix projects an end to borrowing binge, shares surge
* Morgan Stanley gains as quarterly profit races past estimates
* Joe Biden to be sworn in as U.S. President later in the day
* Indexes up: Dow 0.53%, S&P 0.97%, Nasdaq 1.68% (Updates to market open)

Jan 20 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit all-time highs on Wednesday as Joe Biden prepared to take charge as U.S. President, while Netflix shares surged after saying it will no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its TV shows and movies.

Shares of the world's largest streaming service surged 14% to add more than $30 billion to its market capitalization, helping boost the broader tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index.

Biden, due to take over as the 46th president of the United States just after noon (1700 GMT) on Wednesday, will waste little time turning the page on the Trump era, advisers said, signing a raft of 15 executive actions on issues ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the economy to climate change.

"It's all about the inauguration, focusing first on Biden being placed into the office and then it's going to be about earnings," said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in Fairfield, Connecticut.

The Dow has gained about 57% in the four years since Donald Trump assumed office on Jan. 20, 2017, which compares with a 72% jump in the first term of the Obama administration.

Bets on a bigger pandemic relief plan and higher infrastructure spending under the Biden administration, and a Democrat-controlled Congress have been pivotal in driving major U.S. stock indexes to all-time peaks this month.

Six of the 11 S&P sectors advanced in early trading, with technology, communication services and consumer discretionary among the biggest gainers.

Wrapping up quarterly reports from major U.S. lenders, Morgan Stanley climbed 0.8% after its quarterly profit blew past estimates as the its trading business benefited from coronavirus-induced volatility in financial markets.

S&P 500 company earnings are expected to rise by 24% in 2021 after falling 15% in 2020, according to Refinitiv data. With stock market valuations sitting close to a 20-year high, investors are hoping corporate results and profit outlooks will help them determine to what degree the valuations are justified.

At 10:12 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 164.52 points, or 0.53%, to 31,095.56, the S&P 500 gained 36.94 points, or 0.97%, to 3,835.85 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 219.91 points, or 1.68%, to 13,418.23.

UnitedHealth Group Inc slid 0.7% after the health insurer's quarterly profit slumped nearly 38%, weighed down by costs related to its programs to make COVID-19 testing and treatment more accessible for its customers.

Procter & Gamble Co raised its full-year sales forecast for a second time but its shares slipped about 0.7% as it warned that the pace of sales might slow as vaccines roll out.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.5-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.9-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 45 new 52-week highs and no new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 382 new highs and six new lows.

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