Overnight Markets: US stocks roar higher on expectations of strong stimulus

US stocks roared higher on Thursday, with the Dow Jones wrapping up its strongest three days since 1931, despite record weekly US jobless claims, as investors focused on an unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus awaiting approval by the House of Representatives.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 6.38% to end at 22,552, while the S&P 500 surged 6.24% to 2,630. The Nasdaq Composite added 5.6% to 7,798.

The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to 3.28 million last week as state-wide lockdowns brought the US economy to a halt and unleashed a wave of layoffs.

On the other hand, expectations are high that the House will pass the stimulus measure to support distressed industries, including airlines, after the Senate cleared the proposal.

The move is intended to stem the crushing economic impact of the intensifying coronavirus pandemic that has killed about 1,000 and infected nearly 70,000 people in the US.

In other economic news, US gross domestic product for the fourth quarter was confirmed at 2.1%, and the February goods trade gap narrowed to $59.9 billion, the government said.

The S&P utilities index was the strongest among 11 sectors, jumping 8.4%.

Boeing Co surged 14%, boosted by a $58 billion provision for the aerospace industry in the latest aid bill. Boeing has surged over 90% in the past four sessions.

Shares of Peloton Interactive Inc. rose more than 5% after an analyst said the at-home exercise programme provider was “clearly benefiting from global quarantines.”

Slack Technologies Inc. shares surged 10% after chief executive Stuart Butterfield said it had added half a million additional users between Monday and Wednesday this week.

Cheesecake Factory Inc. shares added 4% after the restaurant chain said late Wednesday it would not pay rent in April due to “unprecedented times.”

In Asia, stocks were higher on Friday in morning session after Wall Street soared overnight in the US on hopes of a $2 trillion stimulus package.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 1.07% while the Topix index gained 1.7%. South Korea’s Kospi was up 1.51% while the Kosdaq index rose 2.46%. In China, the Shanghai composite rose about 0.6% while the Shenzhen composite added 0.665%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.86%.

Meanwhile, stocks in Australia fell into negative territory, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 1.78%.


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