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Friday Dec 08 2017

Stocks gain, dollar hits two-week high as risk appetite returns

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, US, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files

NEW YORK: Major world stock markets advanced on Thursday and the US dollar rose to a two-week high as risk appetite returned and investors kept an eye on US political developments and awaited a key US jobs report due out on Friday.

Wall Street’s main equity indexes rose, while oil prices rebounded a day after hitting two-week lows.

A US tax bill moving swiftly through Congress has influenced markets in the past month, with investors hoping that deep cuts to corporate tax rates will help further drive the record-setting run in equities.

US Senate Republicans agreed to talks with the House of Representatives on sweeping tax legislation on Wednesday, amid early signs that lawmakers could bridge their differences and agree on a final bill ahead of a self-imposed December 22 deadline.

“We are kind of in a cautious wait-and-see mode trying to determine what the tax policy in the US is going to yield and to what extent that might propel further growth from here,” Peter Jankovskis — the co-chief investment officer at Lisle, Illinois-based OakBrook Investments LLC — said.

”Obviously, we have had a very strong run in the markets here in the US in the past year and I think they are probably looking at tax policy as a key to continuing that,” Jankovskis said.

Investors were also wary of US negotiations over a spending package.

US President Donald Trump will face off with Democratic leaders of Congress on Thursday in a meeting intended to bridge differences over a spending bill and prevent a government shutdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 45.15 points (0.19 percent) to 24,186.06, the S&P 500 gained 7.34 points (0.28 percent) to 2,636.61, and the Nasdaq Composite added 45.05 points (0.66 percent) to 6,821.42.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.07 percent.

Technology stocks gained in the United States and Europe after the high-flying sector had retreated in recent days.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe added 0.24 percent, after declining the past two sessions.

The dollar rose to a two-week high against a basket of currencies, recovering losses against the yen, on stronger risk appetite across markets.

The dollar index rose 0.08 percent, with the euro down 0.07 percent to $1.1787.

“Tomorrow’s jobs report will play a significant factor in keeping the (dollar) rally alive and heightening hopes for an early 2018 rate hike,” Lennon Sweeting — the chief market strategist at Toronto-based XE — said.

Bitcoin soared to a record high of $15,000 on the Bitstamp exchange, continuing a surge from less than $1,000 at the beginning of the year.

US Treasury yields were little changed, shrugging off a report on US unemployment as investors held off on major moves ahead of the nonfarm payrolls report due out on Friday.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 1/32 in price to yield 2.3314 percent, from 2.33 percent late on Wednesday.

Oil edged higher, regaining ground from sharp losses the previous day brought on by an unexpectedly large rise in US stocks of refined fuels.

US crude rose 0.89 percent to $56.46 per barrel and Brent was last at $61.92, up 1.14 percent on the day.

Copper rose 0.24 percent to $6,566.00 a tonne but had yet to retrace steep declines from Tuesday’s session.


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