Thursday, May 23, 2024

Wall Street adds to its records; energy stocks lead the way

by Associated Press

Stocks are tacking more gains onto their records at the start of trading on Thursday. The S&P 500 was 0.2% higher in the first few minutes after closing June at an all-time high and notching its fifth straight quarterly gain. The Dow and Nasdaq were also up modestly following an encouraging report on the job market. The number of workers filing for unemployment benefits fell to 364,000 last week, the lowest level since the pandemic walloped the economy. The yield on the 10-year Treasury edged higher, while stocks in Europe gained and Asian markets slipped.

European shares rose Thursday after a retreat in Asia as investors awaited a key U.S. jobs report to see how the recovery from the pandemic is faring.

France’s CAC 40 gained nearly 1.1% in early trading to 6,576.68, while Germany’s DAX jumped 1.0% to 15,691.70. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 1.2% to 7,122.77. U.S. shares were set for gains, with the future for the Dow industrials up 0.3% at 34,513.5. The S&P 500 future rose 0.3% to 4,300.88.

In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3% to 28,707.04, while South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.4% to 3,282.06. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.7% to 7,265.60. The Shanghai Composite gave up earlier gains, losing nearly 0.1% to 3,588.78. Trading was closed in Hong Kong for the anniversary of the handover of the former British colony to Beijing.

The Bank of Japan’s quarterly “tankan” survey showed continuous recovery, with large manufacturers’ sentiment remaining largely positive despite the pandemic.

The headline survey showed a rise to 14 from 5 in the previous quarter, but that was lower than expected, according to Robert Carnell, regional head of research Asia-Pacific at ING.

The tankan measures corporate sentiment by subtracting the number of companies saying business conditions are negative from those responding they are positive.

Carnell and others said the tankan findings show the big jump in recovery for the world’s third largest economy may already be over, meaning that from now on, the rebound will be steady but gradual.

Worries remain as Asia has lagged the U.S. and parts of Europe in coronavirus vaccinations and some countries are enduring their worst outbreaks yet.

“Risks factors such as the more contagious delta strain of COVID-19 and U.S. payrolls report will continue to be on watch,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

“Although there has been optimism on the vaccine front to curb the delta variant, the vaccination progress in the region will have to see some significant pick-up to deal with the spreads,” Yeap said.

As inflation concerns have receded, technology companies have made gains. The tech sector is viewed as a high-growth area of the market, which tends to do better when inflation is low.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 97 cents to $74.44 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 49 cents to $73.47 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 94 cents to $75.56 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched up to 111.41 Japanese yen from 111.11 yen. The euro cost $1.1849, down from $1.1855.

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