NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks scaled new heights Friday as a lackluster US jobs report was seen as bolstering the case for US President Joe Biden’s $1.9-trillion stimulus plan. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq ended at records for a second straight day following the jobs data. Analysts also cited progress on coronavirus vaccines as a factor in extending the rally.
The closely-watched jobs data showed the unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent in January but the economy added only 49,000 jobs, the Labor Department said. Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, called the report a “double clunker” as the December figure was revised to show a loss of 227,000 jobs from an initial estimate of 140,000.
Biden argued the data show the need for speedy relief. “I see enormous pain in this country, a lot of folks out of work, a lot of folks going hungry,” the US president said in a White House speech.
“I believe the American people are looking right now to their government for help… so I’m going to act. I’m going to act fast.” Economist Joel Naroff expects Washington to produce another relief package “within the next few weeks,” he said in a note.
“The economy is being supported by the federal government and the markets are reaping the rewards,” Naroff wrote.
In Europe, Paris ended the day with gains, but Frankfurt and London slipped into the red.
Meanwhile, oil prices continued to climb on rising demand expectations as people return to more normal lives. “WTI and Brent crude oil hit their highest levels since February last year on continued worries about supply coupled with a belief the world economy is going to improve this year, and therefore demand for oil will rise,” said David Madden at CMC Markets UK. —AFP
On the corporate front Friday, Chinese short-video app company Kuaishou-a major rival to TikTok-nearly tripled on its market debut following a $5.4-billion initial public offering that was the biggest for an internet firm since Uber’s May 2019 listing. Johnson & Johnson rose 1.5 percent after it submitted an application for emergency authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine with US health authorities.
The process could take several weeks, but if approved, the vaccine would be the third authorized in the United States, after those of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. —AFP