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While you were sleeping: Stocks, greenback climb

Wednesday 4th January 2017

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Wall Street and the US dollar advanced as better-than-expected manufacturing data underpinned optimism about the outlook.

An Institute for Supply Management report showed its index of national factory activity climbed to 54.7 last month, a two-year high. 

"The economy is ending the year on a high note with even the manufacturing sector showing signs of faster growth," Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, told Reuters. "It appears that President [Barack] Obama will be leaving his successor with a pretty good economy." 

Separately, a Commerce Department report showed construction spending rose 0.9 percent to US$1.18 trillion in November, the highest in more than a decade.

Wall Street gained. In 1.13pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.4 percent. In 12.58pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.4 percent. 

Also underpinning sentiment are bets on the policies of US President-elect Donald Trump who takes office this month. 

"What you are seeing is the market moving up in anticipation of fiscal expansion and a potential reflation trade that will replace what has been a monetary policy-driven market for the last several years." Thomas Wilson, senior investment manager at Brinker Capital, told Reuters.

In the Dow, gains in shares of Merck and those of Visa, recently trading 2.4 percent and 2.1 percent higher respectively, outweighed declines in shares of McDonald’s and those of Wal-Mart, down 2 percent and 1.3 percent respectively recently.

Shares of Ford Motor rose, trading 3.2 percent stronger as of 1.15pm in New York. The company said it cancelled plans to build a US$1.6 billion plant in Mexico. Instead, it will invest US$700 million at a Michigan factory.

It’s a move that reflects pressure from Trump, analysts said.

“It is going to be a choppy ride as the market and press get to understand the new administration's policy agenda,” Andrew Stanners, an investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, which has US$11 billion in emerging-market debt including Mexican peso bonds, told Bloomberg. “Unfortunately for Mexico, it is on the front line.”

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the day with a 0.7 percent advance from the previous close, bolstered by bank stocks. France’s CAC 40 Index rose 0.4 percent, while the UK’s FTSE 100 Index added 0.5 percent to close at a record high. Germany’s DAX Index slipped 0.1 percent.

“There’s lot of fresh money and a strong consensus saying that financials are good place to be, due to inflation expectations and higher rates,” Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank in Hellerup, Denmark, told Bloomberg. “We’re also bound to get a repricing of the very weakest financial institutions.”

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