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S&P 500, Dow lose altitude a day after setting file highs

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U.S. stock benchmarks lose value early Thursday lunchtime as investors ponder President Biden’s prospects to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and kickstart the economic recovery with his legislative agenda.

How are stock benchmarks performing?

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA (-0.17%) fell 26 points, or 0.1%, to 31,162, but had hit a record intraday high of 31,272.22.

  • The S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.11%, fell 1 basis point or less than 0.1% to around 3,851.

  • The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP (+ 0.17%) rose 46 points or 0.3% to 13,503.

On Wednesday, the Dow, Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 and Russell 2000 Small Cap RUT index closed at record highs, -0.80%.

What is driving the market?

U.S. stock markets traded near record highs as the prospect of greater tax aid to cope with the economic damage caused by COVID-19 and better strategies among Biden to vaccinate Americans faster to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The US has the highest reported death toll at 46,162, or about a fifth of the world’s total. The country added at least 184,453 new cases and counted at least 4,357 deaths on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker.

On his first full day of his presidency, Biden will sign 10 executive orders, in addition to more than a dozen signed a day ago. He is also expected to use Defense Production Act to expedite the manufacture and supply of personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, robes, swabs, rapid test kits, and any material needed for vaccine supply.

Investors continue to focus on the 46th President’s proposed $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief package a day after he took office. It is unclear whether he can receive his bill in its current form without changes through Congress.

Optimism about stocks was largely based on expectations of more funds to rebuild the economy and hopes that Biden will be able to eradicate political divisions that have grown over the past four years.

“The new US president will try to resolve domestic political problems related to economic and social divisions. In addition, his handling of international relations is probably much more tactful than that of his predecessor Trump, ”wrote David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a daily research report.

Meanwhile, market participants took in the European Central Bank’s latest policy statement that no changes were made to interest rates or the asset purchase program after stepping up efforts to support the euro area economy last month.

ECB President Christine Lagarde held a press conference at 8:30 am East and said that she is “monitoring exchange rates very carefully” referring to the strength of the euro EURUSD, + 0.26% versus its counterparts which is the Can undermine the central bank’s accommodation policy.

In US economic reports, weekly unemployment benefits fell by 26,000 to 900,000 in mid-January but remain elevated.

“Unemployment claims were a little better than expected, but were still pretty boring on a grand scale and will likely fuel the economic stimulus in the bypass,” wrote Mike Loewengart, managing director of E * TRADE Financial.

“We have seen the market remove the weakness in the labor market, and with many profound changes in the last 24 hours, the market has a lot to digest,” said the strategist.

Meanwhile, US home builders began building homes in December at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.67 million, up 5.8% from the previous month, the US Census Bureau reported Thursday.

“While production restrictions will continue to weigh on launches, we are relatively optimistic about the outlook for this year,” wrote Sam Hall, capital economics real estate economist, in a statement on Thursday.

Separately, the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index, a measure of business activity in the Federal Reserve District, rose from 9.1 in the previous month to 26.5 in January.

Which stocks are in focus?

Alcoa Corp.. AA, -11.83% Shares fell over 11% after the aluminum company’s quarterly results beat Wall Street’s expectations, but warned that if markets fail to recover, performance could deteriorate.

United Airlines Holdings Inc.The -7.45% equity UAL fell 7% late Wednesday after the fourth quarter results.

Alaska Air Group Inc.. ALK, -2.82%, announced Thursday that it will receive $ 533 million after reaching an agreement with the US Treasury Department last week to extend its Payroll Support Program (PSP). Their shares were down 2.7%.

Shares of PayPal Holdings Inc.
PYPL, + 0.29%, rose 0.5% after BTIG analyst Mark Palmer switched the stock to neutral to take advantage of the company’s cryptocurrency platform.

Shares of Celsion Corp.
CLSN, + 29.80%, rose 34% in very active trading Thursday, more than doubling the cancer drug development company in two days.

How are other markets doing?
  • The yield on the 10 year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y (1.105%) rose 1.2 basis points to 1.10% as investors anticipate stronger reflation. Yields and bond prices are moving in opposite directions.

  • The ICE US Dollar Index DXY, -0.24%,
    A measure for the currency versus a basket of six major competitors fell 0.3%.

  • The oil futures were traded lower, with the US benchmark CL.1 falling -0.58% 1 by 0.5% to USD 53.04 per barrel in line with economic expectations. Gold futures rebounded near a two-week high, but recently fell 0.2%, -0.24% at $ 1,863.50 an ounce on February contract GCG21.

  • In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Europe Index SXXP (+ 0.01%) rose 0.2%, while the London FTSE 100 UKX (-0.37%) fell 0.4%.

  • In Asian trade, the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP (+ 1.07%) rose 1.1%, the Chinese CSI 300 000 300 (+ 1.62%) rose 1.6%, while the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index HSI (-0, 12%) by 0.1% and the Japanese Nikkei 225 NIK (0.1%) fell. + 0.82% closed 0.8% higher.

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