Wall Street stocks mostly rose and the dollar rallied Wednesday following a heavy load of mostly solid US economic data ahead of a holiday weekend.
While European equities remained pressured by worries over renewed Covid-19 restrictions, two of three major US indices advanced ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, when US markets are closed, and the next day’s “Black Friday” kickoff of the holiday shopping season.
The broad-based S&P 500 finished just shy of an all-time record as jobless claims hit their lowest level since 1969, while consumer income and spending both rose more than expected.
Not all of the reports were great. New home sales lagged expectations, while durable goods orders fell.
“As we look forward to Thanksgiving, there is much to be thankful for in this fiscally-stimulated recovery,” said Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics.
“Still, the recovery process isn’t complete, with spending on services well below its pre-pandemic trend, and the transition from the public- to private-driven growth will be delicate.”
Federal Reserve meeting minutes revealed increased concerns about higher prices as data showed inflation well above the central bank’s two-percent target, up to five percent in October 2021 compared with a year earlier.
The minutes added to expectations of a speedier tightening of monetary policy.
They also boosted the dollar, which was “supported by rising yields amid faster tapering expectations, stronger data and troubles for the eurozone with surging Covid cases,” said ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.
– New Covid measures –
Back in Europe, the DAX in Germany ended the day 0.4 percent lower after a centre-left-led alliance of parties announced a deal to form the next government, putting the Social Democrats in charge for the first time in 16 years.
The transition comes as markets weigh the risk of additional Covid-19 restrictions in Europe.
The European Union health agency Wednesday called on member states to “urgently” introduce anti-Covid measures to reduce the potentially “very high” burden the disease will have in December and January.
Elsewhere, oil prices inched lower in a partial reversal of Tuesday’s rally in response to the announcement that the United States and five other countries would release oil from their strategic reserves.
The head of the International Energy Agency on Wednesday called on OPEC and its allies to take measures to help bring oil prices down to “reasonable levels.”
Members of the OPEC+ group of countries are scheduled to review their strategy at a meeting in December, including whether they will follow through on earlier plans to boost output.
– Key figures around 2210 GMT –
New York – Dow: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 35,804.38 (close)
New York – S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 4,701.46 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.4 percent at 15,845.22 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,286.32 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.4 percent at 15,878.39 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 7,042.23 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,276.25 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.6 percent at 29,302.66 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 0.1 percent at 24,685.50 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,592.70 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1203 from $1.1248 at 2200 GMT
Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.02 pence from 84.07 pence
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3330 from $1.3378
Dollar/yen: UP at 115.41 yen from 115.14 yen
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at $82.25 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $78.39 per barrel