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Wall Street ends volatile week on positive note, Europe slides

·3-min read
A surge in coronavirus cases has given investors a case of the jitters
A surge in coronavirus cases has given investors a case of the jitters

US stocks finished a choppy week solidly higher as tech stocks outperformed, though the cheer did not extend to Europe where investors were spooked by surging virus infections.

After a see-saw of a week in which indices repeatedly closed sessions in the red, the Dow finished up 1.3 percent on Friday while tech stocks, which had a banner August but have struggled for much of this month, pushed the Nasdaq to close 2.3 percent higher.

The dollar climbed against its main rivals, while oil prices dropped.

However both the Dow and S&P were lower for the week overall, and Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, said the day's gains were not indicative of broader momentum.

"The market has been under pressure for a while and is just catching a bit of a bargain-hunting Friday," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.

Investors remain disquieted by the continued failure of Washington lawmakers to agree on more stimulus for the battered US economy. 

The side effect of that deadlock were felt in European trading, where Frankfurt and Paris ended lower though London eked out a small gain.

"The same old issues are holding these markets back, considerable economic and political uncertainty -- particularly in the US -- worrying Covid trends in Europe and a lack of new fiscal and monetary support measures in Washington," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

The need for a new stimulus deal was highlighted by data that showed jobless claims rising rather than falling last week in the United States, perhaps indicative of a stumbling recovery as the November presidential election nears.

US durable goods orders posted tepid growth of 0.4 percent in August, according to data released Friday, well below the revised level in July of 11.7 percent.

Aneta Markowska at Jefferies LLC said it was "a close call" on whether new stimulus would be agreed, adding: "While still possible, there is a high risk that it does not happen this year. 

"Without it, we would expect the economy to hit a major speed bump in the fourth quarter."

Europe is in the midst of a surge in coronavirus infections that has resulted in governments imposing partial lockdowns and social restrictions.

Two British supermarket chains are also now rationing certain products to avoid the panic-buying seen earlier this year.

"At this point in the recovery, a return to the Covid-19 abyss due to stricter lockdown measures is quite frankly something the global economy cannot afford," said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp.

- Key figures around 2030 GMT -

New York - Dow Jones: UP 1.3 percent at 27,173.96 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 1.6 percent at 3,298.46 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 2.3 percent at 10,913.56 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 5,842.67 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.1 percent at 12,469.20 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 percent at 4,729.66 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.7 percent at 3,137.06 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 23,204.62 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 23,235.42 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,219.42 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1626 from $1.1667 at 2100 GMT 

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2739 from $1.2743

Dollar/yen: UP at 105.59 yen from 105.41 yen

Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.23 pence from 91.54 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.5 percent at $40.12 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.2 percent at $41.86 per barrel

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