Stock Market Live: Santa Claus Rally Comes Late As Stocks Get Big Tech Boost

Stocks are looking at firm early gains Thursday as beaten-down tech stocks get a boost heading into the final two trading days of the year.

U.S. stocks moved firmly higher Thursday as investors continue to track developments in China’s Covid crisis and its impact on domestic growth prospects over the final two trading days of the year.

Stocks were given a modest boost in pre-market, as well, from a higher-than-expected reading for weekly jobless claims, which rose by 9,000 to a seasonally-adjusted level of 225,000. Continuing claims, meanwhile, jumped to the highest since early February, potentially indicating labor market softness into the start of the year that could see a fading of bets on near-term interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

Goldman Sachs GS, in fact, looks set to unveil job cuts as early as next month, with CEO  David Solomon told employees in his traditional end-of-year message that a “variety of factors impacting the business landscape, including tightening monetary conditions that are slowing down economic activity” are weighing on the bank’s prospects and warned that a “headcount reduction will take place in the first half of January”.

Reports suggest as many as 4,000 jobs could be eliminated, a tally that would amount to around 8% of the bank’s global workforce. 

The CME Group’s FedWatch indicates a 70.9% chance of a 25 basis point rate hike in February, with the chances of a larger 50 basis point move pegged at 29.1%.

Still, stocks have shown modest pre-market and early trading for most of this week, only to turn sharply lower later in the session amid thin holiday trading volumes and broader movements in the bond market, which have digested $85 billion in new paper from 2-year and 5-year auctions over the past three days.

China’s decision to reverse many of its Covid restrictions, particularly on travel, has ignited a new wave of infections in the world’s most-populated country, potentially overwhelming its healthcare system while grinding business activity to a halt heading into the lunar new year celebrations next month.

In the U.S., stocks were hit by both 

Stocks tumbled into the final hours of trading, with the Nasdaq notching its lowest closing level of the year — 10,213.29 points — and the S&P 500 falling another 1.2%, after a weaker-than-expected reading for pending home sales, as well as an update from U.S. health officials that noted travelers from China will need a negative Covid test before entering the United States.

In overnight trading, benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields eased to 3.858% while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global currency peers, slipped 0.38% to 104.066.

The CBOE’s VIX volatility gauge, meanwhile, rose another 2.31% in the overnight session to 22.16 points, but faded to 21.91 points in early Thursday dealing.

Heading into the start of the trading day on Wall Street, the S&P 500 was marked 43 points higher while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 263 points. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite was up 162 points.

In overseas markets, the European region-wide Stoxx 600 index was marked 0.28% higher in mid-day trading in Frankfurt, but is likely on pace for a 2022 decline of around 12.3%. London’s FTSE 100 was marked 0.02% lower on the session as the pound climbed to 1.2051 against a softer greenback.

Big gains for beaten-down tech names, including a 2.55% gain for Apple  (AAPL) – Get Free Report and a 1.6% advance for Amazon  (AMZN) – Get Free Report added to the early moves, as did a 5.5% rally for Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report.

Overnight in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.94% lower on the session to close out the year at three-month low of 26,093.67 points. The region-wide MSCI ex-Japan index, meanwhile, ended 0.65% lower at 501.22 points.

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