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US: Stocks end best week since April with muted session

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Wall Street stocks finished their best week in months with a muted session on Friday, as Joe Biden inched closer to victory in the still-unresolved presidential election.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished their best week in months with a muted session on Friday, as Joe Biden inched closer to victory in the still-unresolved presidential election.

The broad-based S&P 500 finished at 3,509.44, down less than 0.1 per cent for the session, but up 7.3 per cent for the week, its best since April.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.2 per cent to 28,323.40, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added less than 0.1 per cent at 11,895.23.

Mr Biden currently leads in the Electoral College against Donald Trump and overtook the president in swing states Georgia and Pennsylvania on Friday, as vote-counting continued.

Still, major US media refrained from calling the race, while Mr Trump and his allies continued to sow unfounded claims about election fraud, drawing rebukes from some elected Republicans.

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The rally this week - which comes on the heels of Wall Street's worst week since March - has been built on the assumption of a divided government in Washington that will thwart major tax increases and other sweeping policies feared by investors.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, said the market at this point is not overly concerned about the risk of litigation in the presidential race, but that sentiment could worsen if there is no significant movement by the middle of next week.

But Mr Hogan said the market could face more pressure in the coming period because of "exploding" coronavirus cases in the United States, which just topped more than 120,000 new infections in a single day.

"In large part we have had a very bad week of Covid news," said Mr Hogan, who said the uptick in cases could prompt tougher restrictions and depress consumer spending.

Overshadowed by the presidential contest was Friday's October jobs report, normally a major focus of investors.

The US unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 6.9 per cent last month as the economy regained 638,000 jobs, far more than analysts had been expecting.

But analysts cautioned that the momentum is on shaky ground as coronavirus cases rise and Congress has yet to approve new fiscal spending.

"The risk is high of a deceleration in job gains from rising virus transmissions that will result in business closures and job losses," said Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics.

AFP

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