Stocks put Middle East tensions in rearview mirror, surge to record highs

Stocks open higher on Wall Street ahead of Ch...

The greenback gained against major currencies for a third straight day after jobless claims fell by more than expected, adding to signs of economic strength ahead of the USA payrolls report Friday.

The Dow closed 133 points lower. The S&P 500 technology sector rose 0.9%, the top gainer among sectors.

Boeing shares dropped 1.9% to lead the Dow lower.

The major averages still posted solid weekly gains despite Friday's muted performance.

President Donald Trump tweeted in response to the record that the Dow had risen 11,000 points since his election, adding "the best is yet to come".

Gold continued to slide, trading down 0.8 percent near $1,547 an ounce.

This afternoon, all eyes will be USA jobs numbers, with forecasts for United States non-farm payrolls for December at 180k down from 266k in November.

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Mr Esper said the USA remains committed to the campaign to defeat the so-called Islamic State group in Iraq and the wider region. An initial Arabic translation of the letter had contradicted the English version, he added, and another copy was then resent.

The spotlight will move next to Friday's labor report, and economists expect it to show employers added 160,000 jobs last month.

Wages also disappointed, growing by just 2.9% on a year-over-year basis. They also forecast the unemployment rate to hold at its low level of 3.5%.

Worries about a recession have faded since previous year, as central banks pumped stimulus into the global economy and the United States and China moved toward an interim deal in their trade war. "Although both readings were slightly below expectations and the recent trend, neither is overly alarming by itself".

Caution prevailed at many commercial airlines Tuesday and Wednesday as the companies rerouted flights throughout the Middle East to avoid potential danger during the heightened tensions between the USA and Iran and the latter's factions in Iraq and Syria, among other places in the region.

The S&P 500 headed for another record as the conflict between the US and Iran, which drove futures down as much as 1.7% Wednesday, hasn't escalated. The president said Iran "appears to be standing down" after the missile attack, prompting the do the same. That comment sparked a relief rally that carried into Thursday's session.

In economic data, USA initial jobless claims declined more than a expected last week, underscoring the health of the labor market. The two countries have been at odds over commerce for about two years, when Trump first applied tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines. The S&P 500 rallied by 28.9% in 2019, whereas the NASDAQ Composite surged by 35.2%, each registering the biggest one-12 months beneficial properties since 2013.

European markets also gained, but more modestly.

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