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Dec 17, 2020

U.S. stocks rise to records as lawmakers wrangle over aid

BNN Bloomberg's closing bell update: December 17, 2020

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The dollar fell and U.S. stocks rose to all-time highs as lawmakers continued to wrangle over a federal-spending deal in Washington. Asian equities looked set for a mixed start.

Futures were little changed in Japan and Australian shares retreated. S&P 500 contracts were little changed after the index climbed for a third day. A bipartisan U.S. stimulus deal “appears to be close at hand,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, but will probably require work over the weekend to get through Congress. Investors earlier took an unexpectedly large rise in jobless claims as a sign the two sides would be prodded toward an agreement. Treasury yields rose.

Elsewhere, the yen held gains ahead of Friday’s Bank of Japan policy meeting. Oil remained near the highest since February. Bitcoin breached US$23,000 for the first time.

With the clock ticking to renew pandemic aid, leaders in Washington are under pressure to resolve their differences after months of deadlock amid signs of a faltering economic recovery. The country continues to set records for virus infections and deaths, with more jurisdictions tightening lockdowns in a renewed threat to the economy.

The stimulus package “ought to be a sufficient bridge,” Steven Wieting, global investment strategist at Citigroup Private Bank, said on Bloomberg TV. “That along with at this stage a preparedness for this COVID emergency and the fact that vaccines are ahead by mid-year, would certainly be sufficient to get us through this period of weakness.”

Meanwhile, leaders from across Europe are isolating after coming into contact with French President Emmanuel Macron, who tested positive for the virus. Pfizer and U.S. regulators are revising information for the company’s vaccine after rare allergic reactions. The FDA is meeting to discuss emergency approval for Moderna’s shot.

Elsewhere, the pound climbed and the euro rose to the highest since April 2018 as officials cautiously predicted a Brexit deal within days. Both held their gains after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “big differences” remain.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures were flat as of 8:05 a.m. in Tokyo. The gauge rose 0.6 per cent on Thursday.
  • Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.1 per cent.
  • Hang Seng futures dipped 0.3 per cent.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.1 per cent.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.4 per cent.
  • The yen was at 103.12 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan was at 6.5158 per dollar.
  • The euro bought US$1.2265.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries ticked up one basis point to 0.93 per cent on Thursday.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed at US$48.34 a barrel.
  • Gold held at US$1,883.99 an ounce.

--With assistance from Claire Ballentine, Vildana Hajric and Dave Liedtka.

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