Stocks register gains on cautious hopes of economic recovery

Wall St. ebbs off as S&P 500 snaps four-day rally

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 1.4 percent at 24,325.62, while the Shanghai Composite was little changed, inching up less than 0.1 percent to 2,923.37.

ST Engineering, which rose 2.4 per cent to $3.49, was the best performer among STI constituents.

Shares rose in Bangkok, Taiwan and Singapore but fell back in Jakarta. Capitol Hill also agreed on unprecedented amounts of aid for the economy, which helped eliminate the worst-case scenario for many investors of a full-blown financial crisis.

In the USA, hopes are rising for up to $1 trillion in fresh stimulus in coming weeks. The index has gained almost 40% since late March. That raises optimism that Friday's more comprehensive jobs report from the USA government may also not be as bad as feared.

At 9:55 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 117.26 points, or 0.46%, at 25,592.28, the S&P 500 was up 5.38 points, or 0.18%, at 3,061.11.

A report showed that the number of USA workers filing for unemployment benefits eased for a ninth straight week, roughly in line with the market's expectations. Yet economists saw pockets of disappointment after the total number of people getting benefits rose slightly. That number had dropped the prior week, which had raised hopes that some companies were rehiring workers.

Share prices have climbed recently on optimism that the recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic might end quickly as economies reopen from shutdowns and travel resumes.

Many professional investors have been arguing that the stock market's rally, which had reached almost 40% since late March, was overdone and that a pullback probably was coming. -China tensions and the possibility of second waves of coronavirus infections.

Meanwhile, referring to the investors' latest move to lock up profit ahead of Friday's unemployment data which could breach a staggering 20% level according to several Wall St. analysts given the scale of unemployment benefits filed over the recent past, a chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group in Minneapolis, Jim Paulson said on the day's Wall St. That would push the unemployment rate to almost 20% from about 15%. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released economic data which showed that the United States trade balance deficit rose 16.7% in April, coming in at -$49.4 billion for the month.

The S&P 500 is now down only about 6.3% from its record set in February after earlier being down almost 34%.

U.S. Treasury prices remained under pressure, as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield advanced to 0.826% from 0.761% Wednesday.

Investors appear to be focused instead on hopes that the worst of the pandemic downturn has passed, or will soon, as governments slowly lift the restrictions that left broad swaths of their economies at a standstill beginning in March.

The July crude contract was up 59 cents at US$36.03 per barrel and the July natural gas contract was up almost two cents at US$1.79 per mmBTU.



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