Thu, 13 May 2021

NEW YORK, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Wall Street's major averages advanced in the week as investors pored through the U.S. Federal Reserve's March meeting minutes and a slew of economic data.

For the week ending Friday, the Dow rose 2 percent, the S&P 500 climbed 2.7 percent, and the Nasdaq added 3.1 percent.

The S&P U.S. Listed China 50 index, which is designed to track the performance of the 50 largest Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges by total market cap, logged a weekly loss of 3 percent.

U.S. Federal Reserve officials indicated at their March meeting that it would take some time before the Fed starts tapering its asset purchases, according to the meeting minutes released Wednesday.

The Fed last month decided to continue its asset purchase program at least at the current pace of 120 billion U.S. dollars per month, while expecting to keep its benchmark interest rate at the record-low level of near zero at least through 2023.

Fed minutes revealed that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) was steadfast on maintaining accommodation, said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial.

"No hint of taper, and no hint of liftoff as the FOMC continues to stress elevated risks to the outlook," he noted.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made headlines this week in calling for a global minimum corporate tax rate.

Yellen's remarks came after U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a series of corporate tax changes that could raise roughly 2 trillion U.S. dollars over 15 years to pay for infrastructure investments in 8 years.

The Biden administration is proposing an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent.

"The idea behind a minimum global corporate tax is to disincentive companies from moving operations from a relatively higher tax country to a lower-tax country, in other words creating a system where corporations would not actively seek solutions to lower their tax burdens," analysts at Zacks Investment Management, said in a note on Saturday.

"These talks are ongoing and complex, with progress slowed by the pandemic, but will be a key factor to watch in the coming year," they added.

Wall Street also digested a batch of economic data.

The U.S. services sector saw robust growth in March, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported on Monday.

The ISM Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) jumped to a record high of 63.7 percent last month, from the February reading of 55.3 percent. Any reading above 50 percent indicates the sector is generally expanding.

U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, rose to 744,000 in the week ending April 3, following an upwardly revised 728,000 in the prior week, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected first-time claims to total 694,000 for the latest week.

U.S. Producer Price Index, which measures wholesale price inflation, increased 1.0 percent in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The reading was higher than a 0.4-percent gain expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Looking ahead, analysts warned of periodic bouts of higher volatility in the near term, as investors are likely to be torn between optimism over accelerating growth and worries over higher inflation, and new virus variants continue to generate uncertainty over the course of the pandemic.

"Renewed bouts of elevated volatility are likely over the coming months," UBS Global Wealth Management's Chief Investment Officer Mark Haefele said, adding investors can take advantage of this backdrop.

"Low volatility at present reduces the cost of locking in downside protection. Meanwhile, future downside volatility can create better entry points for investors seeking to build up longer-term exposure," he said.

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