US open: Stocks extend gains following stronger-than-expected data
Wall Street stocks opened higher on Thursday as some stronger-than-expected data offset news that the US had registered a new single-day record for Covid-19 deaths.
As of 1540 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.53% at 30,041.93, while the S&P 500 was 0.27% firmer at 3,679.07 and the Nasdaq Composite started out the session 0.49% stronger at 12,410.35.
The Dow opened 158.14 points higher on Thursday, extending gains recorded in the previous session as market participants continued to monitor developments regarding a possible stimulus bill.
Stimulus headlines were still in focus after the opening bell on Thursday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement together asking both Republicans and Democrats work together on another round of Covid-19 relief funding.
However, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell rejected the $908.0bn proposal and has repeatedly stated the next round of stimulus should be significantly smaller at roughly $500.0bn.
News that the UK had approved Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine was also still in focus, with US regulators set to make determinations on the vaccine and a similar candidate from Moderna later in the month, possibly allowing distribution to begin before the start of 2021.
The US currently has more than 100,000 patients hospitalised with Covid-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project, while deaths from the coronavirus topped 2,880 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On the macro front, US jobless claims for the previous week surprised sharply to the downside, according to the Department of Labor, with initial unemployment claims for the week ending on 28 November dropping by 75,000 to 712,000, considerably better than the print of 760,000 that some economists had pencilled-in.
Still on jobs, US-based employers announced 64,797 job cuts in November, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, down from 80,666 in October but still 45.4% higher year-on-year.
Elsewhere, activity in America's services sector slowed slightly in November as businesses try to cope with the recent surge in Covid-19 infections, the results of a closely-followed survey revealed. The Institute for Supply Management's services sector Purchasing Managers' Index fell from October's level of 56.6 points to 55.9. Economists were expecting a reading of 56.0.
Lastly, IHS Markit's composite PMI output index posted 58.6 in November, up from 56.3 in October to mark the sharpest rate of growth since March 2015, as manufacturing and service sector firms both recorded faster expansions in output.
In corporate news, stationary group 3M revealed it would cut as many as 2,900 jobs globally, while apparel retailer Express tumbled in early trading after missing earnings estimates and announcing layoffs.