December 3, 2020

US stocks rise as investors weigh latest comments on stimulus progress

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  • US stocks gained on Thursday on revived hopes for near-term stimulus and on jobless claims that declined week-over-week.
  • President Donald Trump indicated in a tweet late Tuesday that he backed a piecemeal strategy for passing smaller stimulus measures.
  • The news boosted equities Thursday morning, but indexes pared gains after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated she would only back smaller bills alongside a larger stimulus package.
  • New US jobless claims for the week that ended on Saturday totaled 840,000, above the median economist estimate of 820,000 claims but a slight decline from the prior week.
  • Oil prices climbed amid concerns that Hurricane Delta will slow output in the Gulf region. West Texas Intermediate crude gained as much as 3,5%, to $41.33 per barrel.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities rose on Thursday as investors digested the latest updates to a possible near-term stimulus measure.

President Donald Trump signaled late Tuesday that he would support a piecemeal approach to new fiscal relief, mentioning the Paycheck Protection Program, airline aid, and another round of direct payments. The president’s tweets revived hopes for fresh government support and drove stocks higher on Wednesday.

Yet indexes pared gains after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn’t support an individual airline relief bill unless it was part of a larger package. Democrats have previously balked at standalone bills, and the party is set to back its own $2.2 trillion measure over Republicans’ piecemeal approach.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET market close on Thursday:

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Investors might be placing too much faith in Washington to get a deal done “given the Democrats’ reluctance previously to engage in a watered-down approach,” said Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda Europe. But he added that warnings from Federal Reserve officials and other economists suggested they might feel enough pressure to act.

US jobless claims for the week that ended on Saturday came in at 840,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. While that was a decline from the prior week’s revised figure, it was above the consensus economist forecast of 820,000 claims.

Continuing claims, a measure that tracks Americans currently receiving unemployment benefits, fell to 11 million for the week that ended on September 26. That was better than economists’ forecasts of 11.4 million.

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“The trend in cases appears to have flattened again, but we just don’t know which way the numbers will move next,” Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note. “If cooler weather pushes infections up again as people move indoors, the very modest decline in jobless claims could easily become a renewed spike.”

Airline stocks rebounded on hopes that a $25 billion aid measure could keep the companies from laying off tens of thousands of workers. The group retraced some gains after Pelosi threw cold water on the stimulus optimism.

Regeneron soared after Trump praised the company’s experimental coronavirus drug as “key” to his speedy recovery. In a tweet on Wednesday, the president highlighted plans to fast-track the drug’s approval for public use.

Weed stocks including Curaleaf and Aurora Cannabis ripped higher after Sen. Kamala Harris endorsed decriminalizing marijuana during her Wednesday night debate with Vice President Mike Pence.

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IBM leaped after announcing plans to spin off its managed-infrastructure business as a separate public company next year in a tax-free deal for IBM shareholders.

Spot gold hovered just below $1,900 per ounce after briefly retaking the key support level at intraday highs.

West Texas Intermediate crude jumped above its own support of $40 per barrel as traders prepared for Hurricane Delta to curb production in the Gulf region. The precious resource gained as much as 3.4%, to $41.33 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international standard, rose 3.5%, to $43.46 per barrel, at intraday highs.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

A $2.5 billion investment chief highlights the stock-market sectors poised to benefit the most if stimulus is passed after the election – and says Trump ending negotiations doesn’t threaten the economic recovery

Fed officials fear lack of stimulus will stifle the US economic recovery, according to September meeting minutes

IMF hints at improved global GDP forecast but warns of ‘difficult climb’ ahead