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U.S. equities post weekly gains amid stimulus talks, Fed decision

New York, US | Xinhua | Wall Street’s major averages eked out gains in the week as investors monitored negotiations on additional U.S. fiscal stimulus and pored through the Federal Reserve’s latest statement.

For the week ending Friday, the Dow rose 0.4 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq climbed 1.3 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

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 advance of 5 percent.

Sentiment was relatively upbeat on Wall Street, as lawmakers in Washington were trying to bridge their differences on additional fiscal stimulus.

The U.S. Congress on Friday passed a two-day stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown and provide lawmakers more time to negotiate a deal in COVID-19 relief and long-term government funding.

Among the unresolved issues in the COVID-19 relief negotiations are a Republican push to shut down the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s credit lending facilities; the scope of the direct checks; and a Democratic effort to include funding for state and local emergencies to be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to The Hill, a U.S. political website.

It is not clear whether Democratic and Republican lawmakers could reach a deal in COVID-19 relief and long-term government funding over the weekend.

Without a new relief package, many Americans will soon lose their unemployment benefits and begin to face hardships like eviction and foreclosure by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve reassured markets that its current easy monetary policy will remain in place.

The U.S. central bank reiterated its pledge to do everything it can to support the economy, saying it would continue bond buying until substantial progress is made. It also suggested interest rates were likely to stay near zero through 2023.

The Fed slashed interest rates to near zero earlier this year and began purchasing massive quantities of U.S. treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities in an effort to support financial markets amid the pandemic shock.

The United States has registered more than 17.5 million COVID-19 cases with related death exceeding 314,800 as of Saturday afternoon, showed a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Latest data showed a spiral virus outbreak is taking a toll on the labor market and threatening the U.S. economic recovery.

U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, rose to 885,000 in the week ending Dec. 12, following an upwardly revised 862,000, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. A Bloomberg survey of economists had called for 818,000 initial state claims.

Retail sales decreased by 1.1 percent last month, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a decline of 0.3 percent. October’s data was revised down to show sales falling 0.1 percent instead of climbing 0.3 percent as previously reported.



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