U.S. Stocks Close Sharply Higher, Extending Post-Election Rally

Stocks moved sharply higher during trading on Thursday, extending the rally seen over the two previous sessions. The major averages all showed substantial moves to the upside on the day.

The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory but off their highs of the session. The Dow jumped 542.58 points or 2 percent to 28,390.24, the Nasdaq spiked 300.15 points or 2.6 percent to 11,890.93 and the S&P 500 surged up 67.01 points or 2 percent to 3,510.45.

The continued strength on Wall Street came as traders kept an eye on the latest news regarding the presidential election.

With projected wins in Michigan and Wisconsin, Democratic nominee Joe Biden currently sits at 253 electoral college votes, just shy of the 270 needed to win the White House.

Votes continue to be counted in a number of key states, including Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

While Biden currently seems poised to unseat President Donald Trump, Democrats are not expected to take control of the Senate.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended October 31st.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 751,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 758,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 732,000 from the 758,000 originally reported for the previous week.

On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched report on employment in the month of October.

Employment is expected to increase by about 600,000 jobs in October after climbing by 661,000 jobs in September. The unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the members of the Federal Reserve announced that they decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent, as widely expected.

The accompanying statement said the Fed expects rates to remain unchanged until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the central bank’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.

The Fed also said it plans to increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning and help foster accommodative financial conditions.

Sector News

Gold stocks turned in some of the market’s best performances on the day, resulting in a 7.6 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.

The rally by gold stocks came amid a sharp increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for December delivery skyrocketing $50.60 to $1,946.80 an ounce.

Substantial strength was also visible among airline stocks, as reflected by the 5.9 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Airline Index.

Steel, chemical, banking and semiconductor stocks also saw considerable strength, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 1.7 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index soared by 3.3 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index spiked by 2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent.

In the bond markets, treasuries showed a lack of direction following the sharp increase seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by less than a basis point to 0.776 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Friday may continue to be impacted by reaction to the latest election results along with the monthly jobs report.

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