Stocks open higher on Wall Street, adding to record highs

Stocks are opening with modest gains on Wall Street, adding to the record highs they reached a day earlier and keeping the market on track to end its first week of the year broadly higher. The S&P 500 was up 0.4% in the early going Friday. The gains came even as the government reported the latest damage being done to the jobs market by the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. employers cut payrolls last month for the first time since April, leaving the economy with roughly 10 million fewer jobs since the pandemic set in nearly a year ago. Treasury yields continued to climb.

Global shares rose Friday on hopes for additional economic stimulus after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

France’s CAC 40 added 0.8% in early trading to 5,714.76, while Germany’s DAX was up nearly 0.9% at 14,088.57. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3% to 6,874.86. U.S. shares were set for gains with Dow futures up 0.4% at 31,051. S&P 500 futures added 0.4% to 3,808.88.

A new state of emergency in the Tokyo region to combat surging coronavirus cases did little to dampen market optimism. The benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 2.4% to close at 28,139.03, its highest finish in more than 30 years.

The emergency declaration, announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for Tokyo and nearby areas, asks people to stay home and refrain from going out at night to dine and drink. Authorities have little power to enforce anything like the kinds of lockdowns seen in some other countries.

South Korea’s Kospi gained nearly 4.0% to 3,152.18, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.7% to 6,757.90. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.2% to 27,878.22, while the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2% to 3,570.11.

Regional share prices were boosted by major U.S. stock indexes surging to all-time highs.

“Asia markets tracked the Wall Street optimism for a second morning, climbing amid the sustained hopes of further fiscal injections in the U.S. to keep the recovery on track,” said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore.

President Donald Trump has issued a statement saying there will be an “orderly transition on January 20th,” although he continues to claim falsely that he won. Democratic victories in the two runoffs held Tuesday for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats tipped the Senate to 50-50 split, with potential ties being broken by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

With Democrats fully in control of Washington, Wall Street is anticipating the Biden administration and Congress will try to deliver $2,000 checks to most Americans, increase spending on infrastructure and take other measures to nurse the economy amid the worsening pandemic.

Investors are largely looking past the current political ugliness — and the pandemic’s acceleration around the world — and are focusing instead on prospects for an improving economy.

Hopes are also growing about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to help daily life around the world get closer to normal. That has investors anticipating a explosive return to growth for corporate profits later this year.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 14 cents to $50.97 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 20 cents on Thursday to $50.83 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 21 cents to $54.59 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 104.00 Japanese yen from 103.80 yen late Thursday. The euro cost $1.2227, down from $1.2270.