The S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite opened at record highs on Thursday, boosted by hope of Washington coming through on additional fiscal aid before the end of 2020.
The Dow Jones Industrials began Thursday up 124.71 points to 30,279.25. Apple rose nearly 1% to lead the Dow higher.
The S&P 500 climbed 13.84 points to 3,715.01. Utilities and materials were the best-performing sectors in the S&P 500, rising more than 1% each.
The NASDAQ advanced 59.87 points above Wednesday’s record closing high, to 12,718.05,
Congressional leaders on Wednesday closed in on a $900-billion stimulus package that would include direct payments to individuals.
Media reports say the measure would exclude liability protections for businesses as well as aid to state and local governments. Disagreements over those issues have been a stumbling block in the latest round of negotiations.
The latest round of U.S. fiscal stimulus talks comes as COVID-19 cases increase at a record pace. The U.S. is recording at least 215,729 additional COVID-19 cases each day, based on a seven-day average calculated using Johns Hopkins University data. On Wednesday alone, more than 247,000 new infections were confirmed.
This resurgence in COVID-19 cases has led to states re-imposing stricter social-distancing measures that are slowing down parts of the economy, especially the labour market.
On Thursday, data showed jobless claims totaled 885,000 last week, hitting their highest level since early September. Economists expected 808,000 workers sought state jobless benefits during the week ended Dec. 12.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve pledged to do its part by continuing to buy bonds until the economic recovery was completed. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell also said the central bank would increase its bond purchases if the recovery slows down.
Prices for the 10-Year Treasury dipped, raising yields to 0.90% from Wednesday’s 0.92%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices improved 55 cents to $48.37 U.S. a barrel.
Gold prices spiked $40.70 to $1,899.80