Thursday, 21 Jan 2021

Stimulus hopes power S&P 500 to record high

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 jumped to an all-time high on Friday as data showing the slowest jobs growth in six months reinforced expectations for a new fiscal stimulus bill to help revive the economy from its worst downturn in decades.

FILE PHOTO: The Fearless Girl statue is seen as the U.S. flag covers the front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., November 9, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Ten of the 11 major S&P indexes traded higher, with the energy sector leading gains, followed by financials and the materials sector.

Oil majors Occidental Petroleum Corp and Chevron Corp climbed about 1% each, boosted by a rise in crude prices, as major producers agreed on a compromise to continue the bulk of existing supply curbs.

The Labor Department’s closely watched report showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 245,000 jobs after rising by 610,000 in October. That was the smallest gain since the jobs recovery started in May.

Analysts said the dismal report could spur policymakers to push harder for a stimulus bill as more than 13 million people were due to lose their government-funded unemployment benefits on Dec. 26 without quick action by Congress.

“The bad news of the weakening jobs picture is potentially good news for investors because it means that the stimulus bill is much more likely to take place in a fairly short time frame,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in North Carolina.

At 09:59 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 117.01 points, or 0.38%, to 30,082.62, the S&P 500 gained 15.62 points, or 0.43%, to 3,682.34 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 43.74 points, or 0.35%, to 12,420.92.

A bipartisan $908 billion coronavirus aid plan gained momentum in the Congress on Thursday after a months-long standoff between Republicans and Democrats over the size of the potential package.

The two parties also face a Dec. 11 deadline to pass a $1.4 trillion budget or risk a shutdown of the government.

Positive vaccine updates from major drugmakers have eased worries around grim economic data and a surge in infections, setting Wall Street’s main indexes for another week of gains after the benchmark S&P 500 clocked its best November.

The United States set single-day records for new infections and deaths on Thursday, with California’s governor saying he would impose some of the nation’s strictest stay-at-home orders in the coming days.

Shares of U.S. carriers and cruise lines including American Airlines, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp were up between 2% and 3%.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by 3.5-to-1 on the NYSE and by 2.6-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and no new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 156 new highs and five new lows.

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