Wed, 21 Oct 2020

Stock markets in U.S. close down, greenback gains

Xinhua/Big News Network
16 Oct 2020, 08:01 GMT+10

NEW YORK, New York, Oct. 15 (Xinhua/Big News Network) -- Wall Street's major averages finished lower on Thursday as uncertainty over a fresh U.S. coronavirus relief package unnerved investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 19.80 points, or 0.07 percent, to 28,494.20. The S&P 500 declined 5.33 points, or 0.15 percent, to 3,483.34. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 54.86 points, or 0.47 percent, to 11,713.87.

Five of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors dropped, with health care down 0.72 percent, leading the laggards. Energy rose 1.17 percent, the best-performing group.

U.S.-listed Chinese companies traded mostly lower, with eight of the top 10 stocks by weight in the S&P U.S. Listed China 50 index ending the day on a downbeat note.

Investors grew concerned over the uncertain fate of a U.S. coronavirus stimulus deal.

"While optimism remains over an eventual stimulus bill, it appears unlikely that we'll get one before the election," Kevin Matras, analyst at Zacks Investment Research, said in a note Thursday, adding the absence of an imminent deal would remove the immediate upward catalyst for the market.

Worse-than-expected U.S. jobless claims numbers also weighed on the market.

U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, increased by 53,000 to 898,000 in the week ending Oct. 10, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast new claims to fall to 825,000.

"Claims rose to their highest in two months last week, suggesting the recovery is losing steam," said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial, noting "the increase in initial claims is disturbing," as "it is difficult to see it and not think the recovery is vulnerable."

The U.S. dollar gained ground across the board Thursday. The euro wilted to 1.1709 by the New York close.

The British pound fell to 1.2906. The Japanese yen slid to 105.42. The Swiss franc was a fraction lower at 0.9143.

The Canadian dollar fell sharply to 1.3219. The Australian dollar edged down to 0.7090. Th New Zealand dollar was seeing little demand at 0.6602.

Overseas equity markets were significantly weaker. London's FTSE 100 fell 1.73 percent.

The German Dax dived 2.49 percent, while in Paris the CAC 40 was off 2.11 percent.

On Asian markets, the worst performer was the Hong Kong Hang Seng which sank 414.22 points or 1.68 percent to 24,252.87.

In Tokyo the Nikkei index ended down 119.50 points or 0.51 percent at 23,507.23, with the healthcare and telecommunications sectors leading the way. The broader Topix declined 0.74 percent to 1,631.79.

"We believe the momentum underlying the current recovery will slow down gradually," Soichiro Matsumoto, chief investment officer for Japan at Credit Suisse, wrote in a memo as quoted by Reuters Thomson.

"The first factor is a potential tightening of restrictions on economic activity due to a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Another factor is increasingly enervated fiscal policy."

China's Shanghai Composite slid 8.60 points or 0.26 percent to 3,332.18.

The Australian All Ords, going against the regional trend, bounced up 26.80 points or 0.42 percent to 6,414.40.

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