US stocks end solidly higher after two down days

NEW YORK (AFP) – Wall Street stocks rose on Thursday (Dec 2), shrugging off two straight negative sessions as markets grappled with worries over the latest coronavirus variant and the risk of a US government shutdown.

Major indices spent most of the session in positive territory, finishing solidly higher after two straight routs.

“I wouldn’t read too much into today’s price action,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management, adding that the “market is rallying today after a period of weakness over the last couple of weeks.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 1.8 per cent at 34,639.79.

The broad-based S&P 500 jumped 1.4 per cent to 4,577.10, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.8 per cent to 15,381.32.

President Joe Biden unveiled a raft of actions designed to tamp down Covid-19, including new testing requirements for travellers. The moves come as the latest Omicron variant spreads worldwide.

Biden has struggled to win over skeptics of his efforts on Covid-19, including critics of policies establishing mandatory vaccinations. A group of Republicans in the Senate has threatened to derail an agreement in Congress to prevent a government shutdown.

“The risk of a government shutdown starting on Saturday has increased,” said a note from Oxford Economics.

US labour data showed an uptick in weekly jobless claims, although the overall figure remains below the pre-pandemic level. The figures come ahead of Friday’s closely-watched monthly jobs report.

Among individual companies, Boeing jumped 7.6 per cent after Chinese officials cleared the plane maker’s 737 Max to resume service after a lengthy grounding following two fatal crashes.

Nvidia advanced 2.2 per cent, maintaining its gains after the US Federal Trade Commission sued to block the semiconductor producer’s US$40 billion (S$50 billion) merger with UK firm Arm, saying the deal would undermine competition in the computer chip industry.