U.S. equities notched a fourth-straight day of gains, racking up fresh record highs along the way, as fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak continued to thaw, and some positive developments on the trade front boosted sentiment. China announced that it will cut tariffs in half on roughly $75 billion of U.S. imports, while reports have surfaced of breakthroughs in the progress for a treatment to the coronavirus. Treasury yields were mostly lower and the U.S. dollar ticked higher following a drop in jobless claims and a rebound in nonfarm productivity, while crude oil prices nudged higher and gold gained ground. Earnings were a mixed bag, with QUALCOMM and MetLife beating the Street’s estimates, while Twitter fell short of forecasts, but revenues cracked the $1 billion mark for the first time ever and daily active user additions far surpassed estimates. Asia and Europe also finished higher.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 89 points (0.3%) to 29,380, the S&P 500 Index was up 11 points (0.3%) to 3,346 and the Nasdaq Composite increased 63 points (0.7%) to 9,572. In heavy volume, 949 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.2 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil was up $0.20 to $50.95 per barrel and wholesale gasoline added $0.01 to $1.50 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price increased $10.19 to $1,566.21 per ounce, while the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—rose 0.2% to 98.49.
Weekly initial jobless claims fell by 15,000 to 202,000, versus the Bloomberg estimate of 215,000, with the prior week’s figure being revised higher by 1,000 to 217,000. The four-week moving average declined by 3,000 to 211,750, while continuing claims increased by 48,000 to 1,751,000, north of estimates of 1,720,000.
Preliminary Q4 nonfarm productivity grew 1.4% on an annualized basis, versus expectations of a 1.6% gain, and following the unrevised 0.2% decrease seen in Q3. Unit labor costs also increased 1.4%, versus the forecast calling for a 1.3% gain. Unit labor costs were unrevised at an increase of 2.5% in Q3.
Treasuries were mostly higher, as the yield on the 2-year note was flat at 1.45%, while the yield on the 10-year note ticked 1 basis point (bp) lower to 1.64% and the 30-year bond rate was down 2 bps at 2.11%.
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