Roundup: U.S. equities post weekly gains as traders assess stimulus prospects


NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Wall Street's major averages advanced in the holiday-abbreviated week as investors assessed the possibility of further U.S. fiscal stimulus under the Biden Administration.

For the week ending Friday, the Dow gained 0.6 percent, the S&P 500 climbed 1.9 percent, and the Nasdaq jumped 4.2 percent. The U.S. markets were closed on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The S&P 500 index reached and hovered around its all-time highs this week, boosted in part by solid earnings reports from Netflix and investment banking giant Goldman Sachs.

U.S. streaming service behemoth Netflix crossed 200 million subscribers for the first time in the company's history, powering a strong rally in shares and also lifting fellow tech giants like Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook.

Goldman Sachs on Tuesday beat analysts' expectations for fourth-quarter profit and revenue on strong performance from the firm's equities traders and investment bankers.

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 rise of 8.5 percent.

Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th U.S. president on Wednesday. Biden said in his inauguration speech that his "whole soul is in" unifying a nation torn apart by the many challenges that need to be overcome, urging the American people to come together at a "historic moment of crisis."

Biden's inauguration also started the clock on the potential for yet another fiscal stimulus package.

In a confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate this week, U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen made the argument for more deficit spending needed to push the economic recovery forward, underscoring the Biden Administration's priority of providing additional aid to struggling families and businesses.

She urged U.S. lawmakers to "act big" with a new COVID-19 relief package as the economic recovery is losing momentum amid surging coronavirus cases.

Yellen made the remarks after Biden last week unveiled a 1.9-trillion-U.S.-dollar COVID-19 relief proposal, which drew opposition from a growing number of congressional Republicans.

Meanwhile, newly-released economic data indicated that the surging COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is threatening its economic recovery.

U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, came in at 900,000 in the week ending Jan. 16, following a downwardly revised 926,000 in the prior week, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday.

The reading was lower than analysts' estimate of 925,000 surveyed by Dow Jones. Yet, it is still well-above the pre-pandemic level.

According to the monthly employment report released by the Labor Department earlier this month, U.S. employers slashed 140,000 jobs in December, marking the first monthly decline in employment since April 2020.

The unemployment rate, which had been trending down over the past seven months, remained unchanged at 6.7 percent in December, the report showed.

The United States has registered more than 24.9 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with related deaths exceeding 416,000 as of Saturday afternoon, showed a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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