US stocks were set to open lower on Friday after touching record highs the day before, with investors mulling a fall in new weekly jobless claims as they wait for a new stimulus package.
Markets in China and much of south east Asia were closed for Lunar New Year, but Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.14% overnight.
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Stock markets around the world have jumped since November, powered by record amounts of stimulus and hopes that coronavirus vaccines will spur a rapid recovery.
On Thursday, data showed that US jobless claims fell to 793,000 for the previous week. That was down from the week earlier but higher than analysts predicted, reflecting the uncertain economic recovery in the US.
Congressional Democrats are poised to push through Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package without Republican support, if necessary.
A sharp drop in coronavirus cases in the US and Europe, as well as the fast rollout of vaccines, has also supported sentiment.
“These improvements bolster our confidence in a return to ‘normal’ sooner rather than later,” said Saira Malik, Nuveen Equities chief investment officer, in a note.
“As a result, we believe cyclicals and small caps should continue to outperform, driven by a recovery in pandemic-sensitive industries and substantial earnings growth.”
Yet the equities rally paused on Friday and the dollar rose, as investors chewed over economic data and the timing of stimulus. The dollar index rose 0.21% to 90.61, yet it remained some way off the two-month highs of above 91.5 touched earlier in February.
The bitcoin price hovered above $47,000 overnight after touching a record high of above $48,300 on Thursday. It was up 4% to $47,255 by 4.50am ET.
The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note was down 0.7 basis points to 1.151%.
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