Stocks open higher, heading for their best week since July

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, putting the market on track for its best weekly gain since July. The S&P 500 rose 0.6% in the first few minutes of trading Friday, and it’s up 3.5% for the week. This week has seen some bumpy trading after President Donald Trump announced that the White House was pulling out of talks to deliver more aid to the virus-stricken economy, only to backtrack later. Technology companies were again putting up some of the biggest gains. Xilinx jumped 14% following reports that it was in talks to be acquired by fellow chipmaker AMD.

Global stock markets and Wall Street futures mostly rose Friday after President Donald Trump said talks had resumed on an aid package for the struggling U.S. economy.

Indexes in Europe were largely higher in midday trading while Shanghai and Sydney closed higher. Tokyo and Hong Kong declined.

Market sentiment improved on Thursday after Trump, who earlier called off negotiations with legislative leaders, said “very productive” talks had begun.

Stock prices have been volatile since mid-September as investors swing between optimism about possible development of a coronavirus vaccine and unease that markets recovered too fast and shares are too expensive.

“When the world’s financial markets are at the mercy of the randomness emanating from the White House, it is hardly surprising that investors elsewhere would prefer to wait on the side-lines,” said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report. “Unfortunately, things are unlikely to settle down over the next few weeks.”

Futures for both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Averages were up 0.4%. In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 gained 0.5% to 6,009 and the DAX in Frankfurt dropped just under 0.1% to 13,031. The CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.3% at 4,927.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index, resuming trading after a weeklong holiday, rose 1.7% to 3,272.08. The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.1% to 23,619.69 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong shed XXX.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 ended unchanged at 6,102.20 and India’s Sensex added 0.6% to 40,429.93. The share price of Tipco Asphalt, one of Asia’s biggest asphalt companies, fell 5.7% today after the AP reported it has helped Venezuela skirt harsh U.S. sanctions by moving hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of the state-run oil company PDVSA.

Trump said in a TV interview that “very productive” talks had begun on more stimulus after supplemental unemployment benefits that supported consumer spending, the engine of the U.S. economy, expired.

That helped to fuel optimism that Republicans and Democrats will deliver another aid package after weeks of uncertainty.

A U.S. government report on Thursday showed that 840,000 workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. That’s down slightly from 849,000 the prior week but remains a high level.

Several areas of the economy have been slowing recently. That has investors focused on whether Congress can deliver more aid.

Some investors also see rising poll numbers for Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election as an indication more stimulus may be on the way, regardless of what Trump says. If Democrats sweep the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, they say a big rescue package becomes more likely. And that could offset higher taxes and tighter regulations that a Democratic-controlled government could also create.

To skeptics, stocks still look expensive relative to corporate profits. Meanwhile, U.S.-Chinese tension over trade and technology is simmering.

A continued rise in virus cases in many countries remains a threat to economic growth. France reported a record number of infections on Wednesday. Germany is seeing a jump in new coronavirus infections, raising fears the pandemic is gaining in a country that so far has coped better than many of its European neighbors. Britain is considering new controls amid evidence measures already in effect have failed to contain the virus.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 38 cents to $40.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.24 to $41.19 on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 36 cents to $42.98 per barrel in London. It rose $1.35 the previous session to $43.34 a barrel.

The dollar declined to 105.84 yen from Thursday’s 106.02 yen. The euro rose to $1.1802 from $1.1758.