US stocks open higher, pushing S&P 500 near all-time record

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Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, pushing the S&P 500 ever closer to the all-time high it reached back in February, before the coronavirus shutdowns slammed the economy. The index was up 0.3% in the early going Tuesday. European markets were also higher. The gains followed President Donald Trump’s announcement that he plans to cut taxes on capital gains and income. Declines in big-name tech stocks like Apple and Microsoft kept the gains in check. Those stocks have far outpaced the rest of the market this year as investors bet they could thrive in a stay-at-home economy. Treasury yields rose.

World stock markets rallied on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he plans to cut taxes on capital gains and on middle income earners, pushing the S&P 500 to within striking distance of an all-time high.

Markets rose even as the tally of confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide topped 20 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Wall Street appeared set to rise on the open, with the future contract for the S&P 500 climbing 0.5% and that for the Dow industrials rising 1.1%. Germany’s DAX jumped 2.3% to 12,977 while the CAC 40 in Paris also gained 2.6%, to 5,035. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 2.1% to 6,175 even after new data showed employment dropped by the most since the global financial crisis in 2009.

Investors are looking to Washington for a fresh lifeline for the U.S. economy, which pancaked into recession as the pandemic gained ground in the spring.

On top of the rising number of coronavirus counts around the world, uncertainty has grown with widening antagonisms between the United States and China, the world’s largest economies. The latest move in their escalating tensions was China’s announcement of unspecified sanctions against 11 U.S. politicians and heads of organizations promoting democratic causes, including Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

The two sides are scheduled to hold virtual trade talks at the end of the week.

On Monday, the S&P 500 rose 0.3%, to close at 3,360.47, after wavering between small gains and losses. The benchmark index is now within 1% of its last record high.

A flood of government spending and monetary stimulus, with central banks buying assets to keep credit cheap, have kept markets rising since March.

“With the Fed buying credit and indirectly saving U.S. stocks, traders should not expect any major corrections even if the selling of tech stocks persists deeper into the trading week,” Edward Moya of Oanda said in a commentary.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 2.1% to 24,890.68, while the Nikkei 225 climbed 1.9% to 22,750.24. In South Korea, the Kospi picked up 1.4% to 2,418.67. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.5% to 6,138.70, while the Shanghai Composite index gave up earlier gains, dropping 1.2% to 3,340.29. India’s Sensex gained 0.8% to 38,495.84.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.60% from 0.58%.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for September delivery gained 71 cents to $42.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 72 cents on Monday to settle at $41.94 a barrel. Brent crude oil for October delivery picked up 59 cents to $45.58 per barrel. It rose 59 cents to $44.99 a barrel overnight.

The price of gold fell $51.10 to $1,988.60 per ounce.