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Currency dealers monitor exchange rates in front of a screen showing South Korea's benchmark stock index (top R) in a trading room at KEB Hana Bank in Seoul on March 24, 2020.

Stocks post third straight gain with US stimulus near

Currency dealers monitor exchange rates in front of a screen showing South Korea's benchmark stock index (top R) in a trading room at KEB Hana Bank in Seoul on March 24, 2020.

US stocks rallied again as investors speculated that the $2 trillion rescue package poised to pass Congress will blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s toll on the economy. Treasuries held gains and the dollar fell.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on November 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Yahoo Finance)

The S&P 500 closed near session highs, posting its first three-day rally since February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its biggest three-day gain since 1931 — and is now 21 per cent above its March 23 trough — buoyed by another big advance in Boeing Co.

Jobless claims surged to a record 3.28 million Americans last week as businesses shut down to help prevent the spread of the virus. While the reading exceeded estimates, aid from the US government my help offset the damage to workers and businesses. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell also sought to assure the public that the central bank wouldn’t run out of crisis-fighting ammunition.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

The jobless number is one of the first major data points to show the extent of the impact on the American economy since states around the country began widespread business shutdowns aimed at preventing the coronavirus from spreading.

European stocks moved higher, and sovereign debt rose after the region’s central bank announced it will scrap limits on bond purchases for its emergency program, a landmark decision that gives it almost unlimited power to fight the economic fallout from the virus. The euro strengthened while a gauge of the dollar headed for a third down day.

While rescue measures across major economies are unprecedented, traders remain cognisant of the virus’s escalating toll. The world’s cases now top 451,000, with more than 20,000 deaths. The US death toll has topped 1,000.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 Index rose 6.1% as of 4 p.m. New York time.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 2.6%.
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.9%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased 1.9%.
  • The euro advanced 1.6% to $1.1055.
  • The British pound increased 2.9% to $1.2224.
  • The Japanese yen advanced 1.6% to 109.42 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries dipped five basis points to 0.82%.
  • Germany’s 10-year yield decreased 10 basis points to -0.36%.
  • Britain’s 10-year yield fell five basis points to 0.4%.

Commodities

  • Gold rose 1% to $1,632.66 an ounce.
  • WTI crude decreased 5.1% to $23.23 a barrel.