Qualcomm, Big Tech lift S&P 500, Nasdaq to record highs



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* Qualcomm tops S&P 500 on upbeat outlook

* Weekly jobless claims fall more than expected

* Moderna tumbles as it sees lower COVID-19 vaccine sales

* Indexes: Dow off 0.05%, S&P up 0.36%, Nasdaq adds 0.62%

By Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar

Nov 4 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes hit a record high on Thursday, propped up by a slew of stellar earnings reports and as investors shrugged off the Federal Reserve's first steps to begin paring its pandemic-era support.

Shares of Qualcomm Inc QCOM.O jumped 12.6% after the chipmaker forecast better-than-expected profit and revenue for its current quarter on soaring demand for chips used in phones, cars and other internet-connected devices.

Booking Holdings Inc BKNG.O added 3% after the online travel agent posted upbeat quarterly results.

Electronic Arts Inc EA.O and rival Take-Two Interactive Software Inc TTWO.O gained 2.8% and 3.8%, respectively, after they boosted their 2021 adjusted sales forecasts on strong gaming boom.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading, with energy .SPNY , consumer discretionary .SPLRCD and technology .SPLRCT rising more than 1% each.

Big banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N and Bank of America BAC.N slipped more than 1%, while the S&P 500 banks sub-index .SPXBK fell 1.7%.

On Wednesday, a widely expected move by the Fed on announcing its plan to start tapering its monthly bond purchases beginning this month, while staying patient on raising interest rates, also helped sentiment.

"You have better than expected earnings, a Fed that is following a well telegraphed path and the economic data for the most part has seen some sequential improvement as we start to get the October reports," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

"You put all those things together and you get markets ultimately making new highs."

A cheery third-quarter earnings season, coupled with an upbeat commentary about future growth from corporate America, has helped Wall Street largely dismiss concerns around rising prices, supply chain snags and a mixed macro-economic picture.

Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a fresh 19-month low last week, suggesting the economy was regaining momentum. It will be followed by a more comprehensive nonfarm payrolls report on Friday.

At 10:04 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 19.02 points, or 0.05%, at 36,138.56, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 16.98 points, or 0.36%, at 4,677.55, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 98.09 points, or 0.62%, at 15,909.68.

The CBOE market volatility index .VIX , a gauge for investor anxiety, fell to its lowest level since early July.

Tesla Inc TSLA.O added 1.3% to scale new heights, while other mega-cap technology titans Google-owner Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O , Apple Inc AAPL.O , Amazon.com AMZN.O and Meta Platforms FB.O also edged higher.

Merck & Co MRK.N rose 1% after Britain became the first country in the world to approve its COVID-19 antiviral oral pill jointly developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Moderna Inc MRNA.O dropped 15% after the vaccine maker cut its full-year sales forecast for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen said on Wednesday his fellow House Democrats could complete votes on President Joe Biden's social spending and infrastructure bills as early as midday on Friday.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.70-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 53 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 144 new highs and 16 new lows.
Reporting by Devik Jain and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Maju Samuel

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