US Stocks Tick Higher at Midday 12/03 12:56
U.S. stocks are inching further into record heights Thursday, as Wall Street
continues to coast following its rocket ride on hopes for coming COVID-19
NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are inching further into record heights
Thursday, as Wall Street continues to coast following its rocket ride on hopes
for coming COVID-19 vaccines.
The S&P 500 was up 0.2% in afternoon trading, a day after inching up to set
another all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 153 points higher,
or 0.5%, at 30,0237 as of 12:13 p.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was
A couple reports that were better than expected on the economy helped
support stocks. One showed that growth in the U.S. services sector, including
health care and retail, was slightly stronger last month than economists
expected. A separate report said fewer U.S. workers filed for unemployment
benefits last week than forecast, though economists cautioned the number may
have been distorted by the Thanksgiving holiday.
Momentum across markets has slowed after the S&P 500 surged 10.8% last month
on hopes that one or more coronavirus vaccines will get the global economy
closer to normal next year. The burst of optimism boosted stocks of travel
companies, banks and smaller businesses in particular, after they were among
the most harshly punished during the pandemic.
"It's pretty clear that investors are looking at some of those areas that
would benefit from a more complete reopening," said David Lefkowitz, head of
Americas equities at UBS Global Wealth Management.
Now that stock indexes are back at all-time highs, worries about the
still-raging pandemic are making further big gains more difficult. Governments
around the world are considering the approval of several coronavirus vaccines,
and a U.S. rollout could begin this month if regulators give their approval.
Britain has already approved emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by
Pfizer and BioNTech.
But vaccines would initially go out only to protect health care workers and
others at high risk. In the meantime, coronavirus counts and hospitalizations
continue to surge. That has governments around the world bringing back varying
degrees of restrictions on businesses and consumers worried about their own
health. That, in turns, is threatening the economic recovery that got underway
in the spring.
Across the country, the Labor Department said 712,000 workers applied for
jobless benefits last week. That's an improvement from the 787,000 of the prior
week, but it still towers over the roughly 225,000 workers that were applying
weekly before the pandemic struck.
One hope that has flickered on and off in markets is that Democrats and
Republicans in Washington may get past their bitter partisanship to reach a
deal to provide more financial support for the economy. Democrats are making
another push for a compromise and have cut their demands for the size of a
potential rescue. President-elect Joe Biden urged Congress on Wednesday to pass
a relief bill now, with more aid to come next year.
But Democrats and Republicans have been arguing for months without much
"Ideally we would get some kind of fiscal support sooner rather than later,"
Lefkowitz said. "The big news is there's more of a line of sight on the fact
that the economy will likely get back to full strength."
On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary
Steven Mnuchin underscored the importance of such relief during a House
Financial Services Committee hearing. The economy has been struggling more
since extra unemployment benefits and other stimulus approved earlier this year
by Congress expired.
Growth in the country's services industries slowed last month, according to
a report from the Institute for Supply Management, though it was the sixth
straight month of improvement.
Apparel company PVH rose 7.8% for one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500
after the company behind the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands reported
much stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected.
Several travel-related companies were also at the top of the leaderboard,
clawing back more of their precipitous losses from earlier in the pandemic.
American Airlines Group rose 10.8%, Norwegian Cruise line gained 10%, and
United Airlines climbed 7.8%. All three, though, remain more than 40% lower for
On the losing end was Kroger, which fell despite 4.7% despite reporting a
stronger profit for its latest quarter than analysts expected. The grocer's
revenue fell short of forecasts. Expectations may also have built too high
after its stock performed better than the rest of the S&P 500 through much of
The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped to 0.92% from 0.94% late Wednesday.
In energy markets, oil prices were modestly higher as talks continue among
OPEC countries on production levels. The talks are due to include Russia
U.S. benchmark crude oil was up 0.3% at $45.40 per barrel. Brent crude, the
international standard, was 0.5% higher at $48.49 per barrel.
In European stock markets, the German DAX lost 0.5%, and the French CAC 40
fell 0.2%. The FTSE 100 in London rose 0.4%.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 was virtually flat. South Korea's Kospi rose
0.8%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.7% and stocks in Shanghai slipped 0.2%.
AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.