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Stocks Edge Higher; Treasuries Gain for Second Day: Markets Wrap

Pedestrians are reflected in a window as they walk past an electronic stock board at the ASX Ltd. exchange centre in Sydney, Australia. Photographer: David Moir/Bloomberg

U.S. stocks edged higher after trading in a narrow range for much of Thursday as investors weighed the latest economic data and reports about fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus. Treasuries extended their advance.

The benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.06%, led by gains in energy, consumer staple and technology shares. Equities had opened lower in the wake of a report that weekly U.S. jobless claims stayed above one million. Meanwhile, Florida’s new cases rose faster than the past week’s average and Texas hospitalizations climbed for a record seventh straight day.

Volume in S&P 500 stocks was 25% lighter than the average during the last 30 days, the first time this year where trading fell at least 15% two sessions in a row. The slide in volume came just ahead of Friday’s quadruple witching, during which options and futures on indexes and equities are scheduled to expire.

“The story has been and remains that with such powerful cross-currents facing the market we are going to have periods of positivity and even exuberance, and we’re going to have moments of disappointment,” said Lauren Goodwin, economist and multi-asset portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments. “It’s just endemic of the economic, political, earnings, health, everything environment just being so uncertain.”

Disconnect between U.S. earnings and share prices is seen as caution signal

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 declined. The pound held onto losses and gilt yields rose after the Bank of England expanded its quantitative easing program.

The picture for global markets remains complex as investors mull reports on China battling its worst outbreak since Wuhan, and Israel pausing further reopening of the economy after a rise in cases. That’s competing with some positive news on the economic front, as well as a flood of promised stimulus measures.

“The markets are fragile right now and I think a lot of investors see how quick the markets have recovered — equity market in particular,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank. “Everyone is starting to feel that maybe we’re ahead of ourselves.”

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 Index increased 0.1% to 3,115.34 as of 4:07 p.m. New York time.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 26,080.10.
  • The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.3% to 9,943.05, hitting the highest in more than a week with its fifth consecutive advance.
  • The MSCI All-Country World Index declined 0.1% to 527.51, the first retreat in a week.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index advanced 0.5% to 1,220.54, the highest in almost three weeks on the largest gain in a week.
  • The euro declined 0.4% to $1.1204, the weakest in more than two weeks.
  • The Japanese yen was little changed at 106.98 per dollar, the strongest in a week.
  • The British pound fell 1.1% to $1.242, the weakest in almost three weeks on the biggest fall in a week.

Bonds

  • The yield on two-year Treasuries dipped less than one basis point to 0.19%.
  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell four basis points to 0.70%, the lowest in a week on the biggest fall in a week.
  • Germany’s 10-year yield declined two basis points to -0.41%.
  • Britain’s 10-year yield jumped four basis points to 0.228%, the highest in more than a week on the biggest surge in almost two weeks.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude gained 2.3% to $38.85 a barrel, the highest in more than a week.
  • Gold depreciated 0.1% to $1,724.87 an ounce, the weakest in more than a week.
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