Roundup: U.S. equities gain during holiday-shortened week


NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks advanced in the holiday-abbreviated week as Wall Street continued to weigh economic impact from the surging COVID-19 infections while digesting a slew of economic data.

The three major averages finished higher on Friday with both the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq closing at new records. The U.S. financial markets were closed on Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday. On Tuesday, the Dow jumped to its all-time high to end above the 30,000 mark for the first time in history.

For the week, the 30-stock index rose 2.2 percent, the S&P 500 climbed 2.3 percent, and the Nasdaq rose 3 percent.

The S&P U.S. Listed China 50 index, which is designed to track the performance of the 50 largest Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges by total market cap, logged a weekly gain of 2.1 percent.

Investors pored through a slew of key economic data as the upward trajectory of new coronavirus infections in the United States continued.

U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, rose to 778,000 in the week ending Nov. 21, following an upwardly revised 748,000 in the prior week, the Department of Labor reported on Wednesday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected initial jobless claims to come in at 733,000.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs -- state and federal combined -- for the week ending Nov. 7 increased by 135,297 to 20.45 million, indicating the pandemic's severe disruption of the labor market.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, a major accounting firm, said in a blog Wednesday that labor market is now moving "in the wrong direction."

"The situation will no doubt get worse if Congress fails to act to provide additional aid before year-end," Swonk said. "Even then, those most in need are not likely to get a government check until late December or early January - an eternity for the millions upon millions who are suffering from the pandemic."

U.S. economic activity in the third quarter grew at an annual rate of 33.1 percent in a second estimate, after a sharp contraction in the previous quarter, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday.

The rebound in the third quarter came after the economy plunged at a revised annual rate of 31.4 percent in the second quarter amid mounting COVID-19 fallout, which has been the largest decline since the U.S. government began keeping records in 1947.

The United States has reported more than 13.2 million COVID-19 cases in total with the death toll from the disease exceeding 265,000 as of Saturday afternoon, showed a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

"2020 has been a year made up of unpredictable events to say the least. Facing so many uncertainties can cause investors to be hesitant about their future decisions," Mitch Zacks, CEO at Zacks Investment Management, said in a note on Saturday.

"For the balance of the year, it will be key to watch how consumers respond to the increasing threat of the pandemic, how corporations adjust earnings expectations as a result, and how capital continues to rotate around the markets," he said.

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