Dow retreats from 30,000-point record, Nasdaq at new high

Dow retreats from 30,000-point record, Nasdaq at new high

Stocks are mostly lower on Wall Street in afternoon trading Wednesday, giving back some of their gains from a record-setting climb a day earlier.

The Commerce Department said US consumer spending, the primary driver of the economy, rose by a sluggish 0.5% in October, the weakest gain since April when the pandemic first erupted.

Market participants said they expected U.S. stocks to climb even higher, with a recent Reuters poll showing the S&P 500 is poised to rise 9% between now and the end of 2021.

"The cautious mood that had been observed in the USA market had transpired to Asia into Thursday with recent euphoria equally running out of steam into midweek", said Jingyi Pan, senior market strategist at IG in Singapore. "People are still optimistic about what 2021 has to bring, from an economic perspective and an earnings perspective".

US markets will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and will have a short session on Friday. They will be open for half a day on Friday, closing at 1pm Eastern Time. Drugmaker AstraZeneca has said its potential vaccine, being developed with Oxford University, was up to 90% effective.

The United States has reported more than 12.7 million COVID-19 cases in total with the death toll from the disease exceeding 261,000 as of Wednesday afternoon, showed a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, energy suffered the largest percentage loss. Technology companies rose, driving the Nasdaq composite to a record high. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 6,683.30 but South Korea's Kospi lost early gains to decline 0.6% to 2,601.54.

At a news conference Tuesday, Trump noted that the Dow's historic high was one of many stock market records set under his administration, calling 30,000 a "sacred number".

The S&P 500 had lifted (+1.5pc) to 3,631, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq had risen (+1.2pc) to 12,025 points.

Asian markets are poised to follow USA stocks higher as uncertainty over the transition in presidential power starts to lift.

"While the vaccine optimism had changed the outlook for Asia markets hoping for a quicker recovery, the formal transition for the Biden administration alongside former Fed chair Janet Yellen's expected lead of the US Treasury had only served as embellishments contributing to expectations for a more conducive environment for the recovery", Pan said.

The Commerce Department said US consumer spending, the primary driver of the economy, rose by a sluggish 0.5% in October, the weakest gain since April when the pandemic first erupted.

Data also showed USA consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of domestic economic activity, increased solidly in October, but personal income fell.

Oil prices strengthened 89 cents to $45.80 USA a barrel.

On the other hand, the yen, seen as a safe harbour currency, was little changed at 104.56 per dollar.

The euro held firm at $1.1901, near the top of its recent trading range. Brent crude, the worldwide standard, fell 28 cents to $48.33 a barrel.

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