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Dow Soars 1,300 to Cap Strongest 3 Days Since 1931

Dow Soars 1,300 to Cap Strongest 3 Days Since 1931
(Dreamstime.com)
 

Thursday, 26 March 2020 04:36 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average wrapped up its strongest three days in nine decades on Thursday as record weekly U.S. jobless claims came in below investors' worst fears and the focus stayed on an unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus awaiting approval by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Dow was up 21% from its Monday low, establishing it in a bull market, according to a widely used definition. It was the Dow's strongest three-day percentage increase since 1931.

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

The median expectation of analysts polled by Reuters was for 1 million claims, but the top end of the forecast was as high as 4 million.

Expectations are high that the U.S. House of Representatives will pass the stimulus measure to support distressed industries, including airlines, after the Senate cleared the proposal.

It would flood the country with cash in an effort to stem the crushing economic impact of an intensifying pandemic that has killed about 1,000 and infected nearly 70,000 people in the United States.

As well as the Dow, the S&P 500 index logged three straight day of gains for the first time since mid-February, before coronavirus fears stopped Wall Street's 11-year bull market. Since Monday, the S&P 500 has surged about 17%, although it remains down 22% from its Feb. 19 record high.

"It's encouraging to see people buying a day after a big up day because we hadn't seen that in a month," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab. "That doesn't guarantee that the bottom is in, but it is indicative of a bottoming process."

Boeing Co rose 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.

Adding to upbeat sentiment, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank stood ready to act "aggressively" to shore up credit in the market on top of the unprecedented policy easing announced on Monday.

"He said the Fed is not going to run out of ammunition and that the committee still has policy room for more action," said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group in Cyprus.

"By saying that he raises the question - will they go for negative interest rates?"

Many analysts expect more wild market swings, with macroeconomic indicators likely to worsen heading into the second quarter as a breakdown in business activity and fears of corporate defaults foreshadow a deep global recession.

The CBOE volatility index fell 2.9 points, but was still near levels far above those in 2018 and 2019.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,351.62 points, or 6.38%, to 22,552.17, the S&P 500 gained 154.51 points, or 6.24%, to 2,630.07 and the Nasdaq Composite added 413.24 points, or 5.6%, to 7,797.54.

GLOBAL STOCKS

The Wall Street rally powered global gains in stocks despite a record number of new unemployment filings in the United States, as traders focused on the unanimous passage of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill in the U.S. Senate and the possibility of more stimulus to come.

The legislation is intended to flood the country with cash in a bid to stem the crushing impact the outbreak has already had on the world's largest economy. Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the past week, eclipsing the previous record of 695,000 set in 1982. The bill is heading for the House of Representatives for a vote on Friday.

"In less than two weeks, we have moved from full employment to a number of job destruction we have never experienced in a period of peace," wrote Christopher Dembik, head of macro analysis at Saxo Bank.

Earlier on Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy is likely in recession already but that reopening businesses should be dictated by the control of the virus' spread, in contrast to the urging by some of President Donald Trump’s advisers for a faster reopening. The president himself has said he wants the economy to be “roaring” by Easter, in a little over two weeks.

The astronomical number of jobless filings left some wondering if the stimulus package, despite its size, would be enough.

"If these numbers continue for three or four weeks, there will be demand for more fiscal support," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

She said the stock market reaction would suggest "that market participants expect a larger stimulus package or fiscal package from the government than the $2 trillion that has been agreed upon."

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 2.55% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 3.79%.

Global stock markets have lost about a quarter of their value in the last six weeks of virus-driven selling.

While markets have found a measure of sustenance as governments and central banks launch unprecedented support measures, investors have struggled to work out how bad the coronavirus impact would be.

"No one is sure how long things are going to be locked down for, how wide the virus will spread in the U.S., what the death toll and hit on the economy will look like," said Salman Baig, portfolio manager at Unigestion.

The combination of the massive jobless claims and stimulus dragged the dollar lower.

The dollar index, tracking the unit against six major currencies, fell 1.457%, and was on track for its largest daily percentage decline since early June 2016.

The euro up 1.42% to $1.1034 and the Japanese yen strengthened 1.72% versus the greenback at 109.35 per dollar, while Sterling was last at $1.2127, up 2.04% on the day.

“Although the latest Fed measures have helped calm markets, as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues and the world economy is effectively in lockdown, we would expect markets to remain in turmoil,” foreign exchange analysts at Bank of America said in a report on Thursday.

The softer greenback buoyed emerging market currencies, with MSCI's index on track for its largest daily percentage gain in nine months.

Oil fell as fears of plunging demand outweighed expectations of support from the U.S. stimulus.

"Concerns around the demand outlook continue to worsen by the day," said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital in New York. "It's just incessant downward pressure."

U.S. crude recently fell 6.7% to $22.85 per barrel and Brent was recently at $26.55, down 3.07% on the day.

Prices on U.S. Treasury bonds rose but yields traded relatively tightly and within the week's range, suggesting the market had already priced in expectations for abysmal data.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 18/32 in price to yield 0.7985%, from 0.856% late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond last rose 45/32 in price to yield 1.3683%, from 1.421% late on Wednesday.

© 2020 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average wrapped up its strongest three days in nine decades on Thursday as record weekly U.S. jobless claims came in below investors' worst fears and the focus stayed on an unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus awaiting approval by the U.S. House of Representatives.
stock, market, wall, street, dow, s&p 500
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2020-36-26
Thursday, 26 March 2020 04:36 PM
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