By Mark DeCambre and Sunny Oh
U.S. service and manufacturing sector indicators improve
U.S. benchmark stock indexes ended at new records Thursday after Congress confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's election win, offering the prospect of more financial aid for consumers and businesses coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
Markets looked past the violent protests by President Donald Trump's supporters in Washington on Wednesday and the president promised an orderly transition of power on Jan. 20.
On Wednesday (), the Dow and small-capitalization Russell 2000 ended at record highs but off their best levels of the day as equity markets pared gains somewhat amid the chaos in Washington.
The positive tone to trading on Thursday suggested investors were focused on the prospect of a more aggressive fiscal agenda under a new Biden administration, said Esty Dwek, head of global market strategy at Natixis Investment Managers.
The political wins by Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the Senate runoff elections on Tuesday raise the prospect of additional coronavirus fiscal relief measures and other legislation (could boost the U.S. economy after Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.
U.S. stocks scored an additional boost after the Institute for Supply Management's nonmanufacturing or services sector survey of activity rose to 57.2% in December from 55.9% in the prior month.
The unexpected rebound in the ISM services index () to 57.2 in December, from 55.9, is hard to square with the range of other evidence showing that the latest wave of coronavirus cases and restrictions on businesses are starting to weigh more heavily on the economy, particularly services.
Indeed, the U.S. economy will likely experience a significant slowdown early in 2021, Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Patrick Harker said (Thursday.
But the report on services comes after manufacturing activity () grew in December at the fastest pace since the coronavirus pandemic erupted last spring.
"Like the manufacturing survey released earlier this week, the headline services reading received an artificial boost from a jump in the supplier deliveries component, which reflects virus-related disruption rather than stronger demand," wrote Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
In other economic data, a weekly report on initial state jobless claims () dipped by 3,000 to 787,000 for the week ended Jan. 2, while the U.S. trade deficit widened i ( November.
The U.S. Labor Department's monthly employment report for December is due Friday and only a small increase in payrolls is expected. ()
The ongoing slow recovery of the economy in the face of coronavirus pandemic is being pointed to as one reason for the market's apparent dismissal of Wednesday's civil unrest in Washington.
"There should be no mystery as to why the markets didn't care about what happened in the [Capitol] yesterday, however disturbing, disgraceful, and embarrassing it was. It's because it has no bearing on the direction of the economy, earnings and interest rates. It's that simple," wrote Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.
Read: Why the stock market rallied even as a violent mob stormed the Capitol ()
-Mark DeCambre; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 07, 2021 16:23 ET (21:23 GMT)
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