• NEW YORK, RAW – The Nasdaq has eked out a modest gain with investors betting on more fiscal stimulus, but US President Joe Biden said China was poised to “eat our lunch”, a warning that tempered investor enthusiasm for a market near record highs.Gains in Nvidia Corp and Intel Corp helped make technology the only sector on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to rise on Thursday, with all others declining.

    Biden told a group of US senators in a meeting to discuss the need to upgrade US infrastructure that the United States must raise its game in the face of the challenge from China.

    The warning about China and Democrat plans to include raising the minimum wage to $US15 in a $US1.9 trillion stimulus package showed headwinds for investors could be on the rise, said Ed Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

    “Markets are starting to get a little bit nervous over the relations between the West and China,” Moya said.

    The Democrats also are not in agreement on where they stood on the minimum wage, he said. “This is dragging out stimulus talks.”

    Mastercard also rose after the credit-card company said it was planning to offer support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year, joining a string of big-ticket firms that have pledged similar support.

    Bank of New York Mellon advanced after saying it had formed a new unit to help clients hold, transfer and issue digital assets, sending Bitcoin to a record high of $US48,481.

    The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits were 793,000 last week, compared with 812,000 in the prior week, but they are well below the record 6.867 million reported last March when the pandemic hit the United States.

    Wall Street’s main indices have hit record highs recently on prospects of the $US1.9 trillion relief bill that aims to jump start the US economy, while a largely better-than-expected earnings season also has bolstered sentiment.

    Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.54 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 31,440.34, the S&P 500 gained 8.03 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 3,917.91 and the Nasdaq Composite added 57.55 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 14,030.09.

    The tech sector and semiconductors hit record highs, while economy-linked energy and industrials took a back seat after being in the spotlight this year.

    US-listed shares of cannabis companies including Tilray and Aphria reversed premarket gains to drop 42 per cent and 20 per cent after the sector caught the attention of Reddit-inspired retail investors this week.

    Walt Disney Co was nearly flat ahead of its results after market close.

    Pinterest Inc rallied after a report said Microsoft Corp approached the image-sharing company in recent months about a potential buyout. The negotiations were, however, currently not active, according to the report.