Investors pushed stock markets higher on Friday, December 4, with United States equities ending at all-time highs as continued optimism over vaccines and signs of progress on new US stimulus offset worries about rising coronavirus cases.
All 3 major US stock indices finished at fresh records after European bourses also posted gains.
Oil prices also climbed to 9-month highs following the latest production agreement by petroleum exporters.
The rally on Wall Street came even following government data showing the jobs recovery stalled, as US employers added just 245,000 new jobs in November.
And though the unemployment rate dipped to 6.7% from 6.9%, the lowest since the pandemic struck, that was due to Americans leaving the workforce.
Noting that new COVID-19 cases are “raging” in the US, FHN Financial’s Chris Low warned that “job growth will be sluggish for the next 3 or 4 months, minimum.”
The United States recorded more than 210,000 new cases in a 24-hour stretch to Thursday evening, December 3, and more than 2,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Still, Low said US approval of the first coronavirus vaccine could come as soon as next week.
And analysts said the weak jobs data provides further impetus for Congress to enact a new stimulus package, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have revived efforts to hash out a deal for more aid.
President-elect Joe Biden reiterated the need for immediate support, saying “if we don’t act now, the future will be very bleak. Americans need help and they need it now.”
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said the soft employment report “is seen as a positive for stocks since it ought to incentivize Congress to pass a stimulus bill this year.”
Brexit talks ongoing
Meanwhile, the British pound gyrated as traders monitored the latest in months-long talks on a post-Brexit trade deal between London and the European Union (EU).
British and EU negotiators broke off their talks without agreement on Friday and handed off the task of clearing the logjam to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.
The leaders will hold a telephone call on Saturday, December 5, after their envoys Michel Barnier and David Frost broke up after an arduous week of day and night meetings without a breakthrough.
Oil prices ended at their highest level since March, with Brent futures close to $50 a barrel, after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its oil-producing allies struck a deal on Thursday to offer flexibility over changes to production in the coming months.
But “obvious divisions between members of the group mean the question marks over the future direction of oil supply are as large as ever,” said Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics.
Key figures around 10 pm GMT
- New York – Dow: UP 0.8% at 30,218.26 (close)
- New York – S&P 500: UP 0.9% at 3,699.12 (close)
- New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.7% at 12,464.23 (close)
- London – FTSE 100: UP 0.9% at 6,550.23 (close)
- Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.4% at 13,298.96 (close)
- Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.6% at 5,609.15 (close)
- EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6% at 3,539.27 (close)
- Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2% at 26,751.24 (close)
- Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.4% at 26,835.92 (close)
- Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1% at 3,444.58 (close)
- Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2110 from $1.2144 at 10 pm GMT
- Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3423 from $1.3450
- Dollar/yen: UP at 104.19 yen from 103.84 yen
- Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.21 pence from 90.29 pence
- West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.4% at $46.26 per barrel
- Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.1% at $49.25 per barrel
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