US open: Stocks record early gains on Biden's first full day in office
Wall Street stocks opened higher on Thursday after major indices hit fresh record highs on Inauguration Day.
As of 1540 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.18% at 31,245.04, while the S&P 500 was 0.22% firmer at 3,860.24 and the Nasdaq Composite came out the gate 0.43% stronger at 13,515.58.
The Dow opened 56.66 points higher on Thursday, extending gains recorded in the previous session as market participants focussed on Joe Biden's inauguration in Washington DC and a flurry of executive orders signed by the new President.
Almost immediately after taking the oath of office, Biden released details of his Covid-19 plan, detailing ten executive orders that would increase testing, speed up the rate of vaccinations, provide further funding to local officials and utilise the Defense Production Act to manufacture additional supplies, including masks.
With total confirmed coronavirus cases in the US exceeding 25.0m, claiming the lives of more than 416,160 Americans in the process, investors will now be keen to see if Biden can push his proposed $1.9trn Covid-19 relief bill through Congress.
On the macro front, US jobless claims undershot economists' forecasts slightly over the past week, according to the Department of Labor, as the number of initial unemployment claims declined by 26,000, in seasonally adjusted terms, over the week ended 16 January.
That number came in on top of a downwards revision of 39,000 for the next to last week, while the four-week moving average, which aims to smooth out the changes in claims from one week to the next, increased by 23,500 to 848,000.
Elsewhere, manufacturing conditions in the Philadelphia region improved significantly in January, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Fed current manufacturing index rose to 26.5 from a revised 9.1 in December, beating expectations for a reading of 12.0 and reaching its best level in nearly a year, while the new orders index increased 28 points to 30.0, hitting its highest level in three months, and the shipments index was up 11 points to 22.7 in January.
Lastly, homebuilding in the US continued to accelerate at a brisk pace at the tail-end of the previous year. According to the Department of Commerce, in seasonally-adjusted terms the annualised pace of new home sales jumped in December at a month-on-month pace of 5.8% to reach 1.669m Economists' had forecast a reading of 1.564m.
In the corporate space, United Airlines shares were in the red after falling short of both top and bottom-line expectations in its latest quarter, while Baker Hughes reported its first profitable quarter since it lost $9.9bn as a result of last year's Covid-19 fuelled oil crash.
Union Pacific also topped profit and revenue expectations on higher shipment volumes.
Still to come, IBM, Intel, CSX and Seagate will all post earnings after the close.