Daily market review

United States

A better showing for technology and growth stocks helped equities edge up Thursday while value/cyclicals lagged in a holiday-shortened session. The Dow Jones industrial index firmed 0.2 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent, and the NASDAQ 100 was up 0.3 percent.

Uncertainty over the US fiscal stimulus package added to the defensive mindset, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a full House vote on Monday on raising the amount of the stimulus payouts, and President Trump was reportedly undecided on his next move after threatening to veto the fiscal bill approved by Congress.

Trading was cautious headed into the holiday weekend, with mega-cap growth stocks the beneficiary, as Apple rose 0.8 percent and Microsoft gained 0.8 percent. Tesla was another winner, up 2.4 percent. On the downside, Alibaba, the Chinese online giant, dropped 13 percent on news China is investigating the company for anti-competitive practices.

Among sectors, materials and defensive sectors joined tech in beating the market. Energy, financials, and industrials lagged.

These price data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET: Dated Brent spot crude oil rose 17 cents to US$51.31 while spot gold rose US$7.74 to US$1,879.45. The US dollar was mixed against major currencies. The US Treasury 30-year bond yield declined 2 basis points to 1.66 percent while the 10-year note fell 2 basis points to 0.93 percent.


The EU-UK Brexit deal gave equities a modest lift Thursday though sterling's rise restrained the export-oriented UK FTSE-100, and trading was light. The Europe-wide STOXX 600 firmed 0.1 percent, the French CAC eased 0.1 percent, and the UK FTSE-100 was up 0.1 percent.

Holiday closures in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and elsewhere limited activity.

Virus worries weighed on sentiment as the UK confirmed exponential growth in Covid cases in its Southeast. Meanwhile, the new Covid mutation identified in the UK added to investor worries that new strains could emerge that would not be susceptible to current vaccines, though experts downplayed that concern. Investors also noted reports that health experts believe the new virus mutation has already reached most European countries.

Among sectors, best performers were banks, technology, and real estate, while lagging were travel & leisure, construction, and miners.

Among companies in focus, BATM Communications, the technology company, rose 5 percent on news its Covid test detects the new virus mutation. Europcar rose 7 percent after creditors endorsed its restructuring plan. On the downside, Sistema, the Russian conglomerate, fell 1 percent after announcing its latest acquisition.

Asia Pacific

Most major Asian markets closed higher Thursday, with a light regional data calendar keeping the focus on US fiscal stimulus and Brexit negotiations. Japan's Nikkei and Topix indices both closed up 0.5 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent, and Australia's All Ordinaries index advanced 0.4 percent. The Shanghai Composite index underperformed, closing down 0.6 percent. Shares of Chinese online retailer Alibaba fell after reports it is being investigated by Chinese authorities for anti-competitive behavior.

Singapore industrial production rebounded strongly in November after sharply weaker growth in October, with output growth picking up in the two largest industries in the sector, biomedical and electronics. Output rose 7.2 percent on the month in November after slumping 19.0 percent in October and advanced 17.9 percent on the year after falling a revised 0.8 percent previously. This contrasts with previously published trade and PMI survey data which both showed conditions remained weak in November.

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