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U.S. equities post mixed results as investors eye stimulus, economic data

New York, U.S. | Xinhua | U.S. equities posted mixed results in the holiday-abbreviated week as investors assessed the possibility of further fiscal stimulus, while sifting through a slew of economic data.

For the week ending Friday, the Dow rose 0.1 percent, the S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq Composite slid 1.6 percent. U.S. markets were closed on Monday in observance of Presidents’ Day.

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 decline of 0.34 percent.

“Leadership shifts frequently in the equity markets. Sometimes growth outperforms value, sometimes small beats large,” Mitch Zacks, CEO at Zacks Investment Management, said in a note on Saturday.

“Instead of getting caught up in short-term, emotional decisions, I recommend maintaining a diversified portfolio and focusing on key data points that can positively impact your investments in the long term,” he said.

The likelihood of additional U.S. COVID-19 relief continued to be a focus on Wall Street. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday that a large stimulus package was necessary to get the economy, which she said was in a “deep hole,” back to full strength.

“We think it’s very important to have a big package that addresses the pain this has caused – 15 million Americans behind on their rent, 24 million adults and 12 million children who don’t have enough to eat, small businesses failing,” Yellen told CNBC Thursday.

Yellen’s remarks came as U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has stepped up efforts to push Congress to approve a 1.9-trillion-U.S.-dollar COVID-19 relief package, which draws opposition from a growing number of congressional Republicans.

U.S. Federal Reserve officials broadly agreed that the Fed’s easy monetary policy will remain in place for some time, according to the minutes of the Fed’s recent policy meeting released Wednesday.

“Participants noted that economic conditions were currently far from the Committee’s longer-run goals and that the stance for policy would need to remain accommodative until those goals were achieved,” the Fed said in the minutes of its Jan. 26-27 meeting, referring to the Fed’s policy-making committee.

The minutes also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic continued to “pose considerable risks” to U.S. economic outlook, including risks associated with new virus strains, and potential difficulties in the production and distribution of vaccines.

The United States has registered more than 28 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with related deaths exceeding 497,000 as of Saturday afternoon, showed a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

On the economic front, U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, climbed to 861,000 in the week ending Feb. 13, following an upwardly revised 848,000 in the prior week, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast new claims would fall to a seasonally adjusted 770,000 for last week.

The worse-than-expected figures indicated that the U.S. labor market is still suffering nearly a year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. retail sales surged 5.3 percent in January, the Department of Commerce said on Wednesday. The reading easily topped a Dow Jones estimate of a 1.2-percent rise.



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