Economic news

Wall St Set to Edge Higher as Weekly Jobless Claims Improve

Dec 23 (Reuters) - Wall Street indexes were set to rise on Wednesday as investors shrugged off President Donald Trump’s threat to not sign a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package, while weekly jobless claims came in better than feared.

In a video posted on Twitter, Trump said the hard-fought pandemic relief package worth $892 billion should be amended to increase the amount in the stimulus checks to $2,000 for individuals, instead of the “ridiculously low” $600.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department’s weekly report showed the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits fell last week, but figures remained at elevated levels as widespread business restrictions to curb the spread of new COVID-19 infections kept employers on edge.

A separate report showed consumer spending fell last month for the first time since April, due to weakness in the job market. A reading earlier this week had also shown consumer confidence at a four-month low in December.

“There’s this conflict between the immediate term, where economic conditions are likely to get worse, but longer term, things should improve quite a bit. The stimulus also helps bridge that gap,” said Chuck Lieberman, chief investment officer of Advisor Capital Management in New Jersey.

At 8:51 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 78 points, or 0.26%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 9.25 points, or 0.25% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 12.5 points, or 0.1%.

The S&P 500 and the Dow lost ground on Tuesday as concerns over a new variant of the coronavirus in Britain and underwhelming economic data weighed on near-term sentiment. But gains in Apple Inc pushed the technology-heavy Nasdaq to a record-high close.

“Technology is going to be a major driver of growth, but at the same time there’s better value in the value segment of the market, and that’s especially true if the vaccine enables the economy to recover,” Lieberman added.

Easy monetary policy, increased liquidity in the market and positive COVID-19 vaccine data has set Wall Street’s main indexes for strong annual gains, despite a rough start to the year.

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc rose 0.8% in pre-market trade after it announced a deal to supply the United States with 100 million additional doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by July next year.

Merck & Co Inc also added 0.5% following its own deal with the U.S.

Supernus Pharmaceuticals Inc jumped 22.0% after its experimental drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder met the main goal of a late-stage study in adults.

Walmart Inc fell 0.3% after the U.S. Justice Department accused the retailer of fuelling the opioid crisis in the United States.

American Airlines Group and United Airlines Holdings fell 0.1% each, as they both outlined plans to bring back furloughed employees this month. The airline industry is set to receive about $15 billion in government support.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Source: Reuters


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