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U.S. Stocks Move Moderately Higher On Continued Stimulus Optimism

wallstreet sept27 19feb21 lt

Stocks have moved moderately higher in morning trading on Friday, further offsetting the sell-off seen early in the previous session. With the upward move, the Dow is climbing back toward the record highs set on Wednesday.

The major averages have seen further upside in recent trading, reaching new highs for the session. The Dow is up 100.90 points or 0.3 percent at 31,594.24, the Nasdaq is up 84.54 points or 0.6 percent at 13,949.90 and the S&P 500 is up 11.92 points or 0.3 percent at 3,925.89.

Continued optimism about more fiscal stimulus has contributed to the strength on Wall Street, as new Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged lawmakers to approve President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief package.

Yellen suggested during an interview with CNBC on Thursday that the Biden administration's proposal could help the U.S. get back to full employment within a year.

The former Federal Reserve Chair also dismissed Republican complaints about the size of the proposed bill, arguing, "The price of doing too little is much higher than the price of doing something big."

The comments from Yellen came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said House Democrats aim to pass their version of the $1.9 trillion relief bill before the end of the month.

Democrats have been hoping to pass a new stimulus bill with Republican support but may be forced to use the process known as reconciliation to approve a relief package without GOP votes.

Traders have generally remained optimistic about more stimulus under Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress, helping propel stocks to new record highs.

Adding to the positive sentiment, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing another unexpected increase in U.S. existing home sales in the month of January.

NAR said existing home sales rose by 0.6 percent to an annual rate of 6.69 million in January after climbing by 0.9 percent to a revised rate of 6.65 million in December. Compared to the same month a year ago, existing home sales in January were up by 23.7 percent.

The continued growth came as surprise to economists, who had expected existing home sales to tumble by 2.2 percent to a rate of 6.61 million from the 6.76 million originally reported for the previous month.

Airline stocks have moved sharply higher in morning trading, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 3.3 percent to its best intraday level in almost a year.

Significant strength is also visible among oil service stocks, resulting in a 3.3 percent spike by the Philadelphia Oil Service Index.

The rally by oil service stocks comes amid a decrease by the price of crude oil, as crude for March delivery is falling $0.47 to $60.05 a barrel.

Semiconductor, steel, and banking stocks are also seeing considerable strength on the day, while some weakness has emerged among utilities stocks.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slid by 0.7 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has risen by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are both up by 0.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure after turning higher over the course of the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.9 basis points at 1.336 percent.

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