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Wall Street opens higher, led by energy, retail stocks

·3 min read

SINGAPORE (AP) — Stocks are opening slightly higher on Wall Street Thursday led by energy, real estate and financial companies. New data showed the U.S. trade deficit increased to a record $75.7 billion in June and the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell last week by 14,000 to 385,000, more evidence that the economy and the job market are rebounding briskly from the coronavirus recession. Investors will watch Weber, the pioneering maker of grills and other outdoor cooking equipment, which makes its stock market debut later today.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP's earlier story appears below.

World stocks edged higher Thursday as traders awaited more guidance on the U.S. economic recovery.

France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5% to 6,782.92 in early trading while Germany's DAX added 0.2% to 15,722.35. Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.1% to 7,129.77.

Wall Street was set for a slightly higher open as future contracts for the S&P 500 index rose 0.1% to 4,401.00. Those for the Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose 0.1% to 34,721.00. Both indexes recently came off all-time highs.

Employment is in the spotlight. On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP said the U.S. private sector added 330,000 jobs in July, which fell short of analysts’ expectations.

The U.S. Labor Department will release a more comprehensive jobs report on Friday. Economists are projecting that U.S. employers added 700,000 jobs in July, bringing the national unemployment rate down to 5.7% from 5.9%, according to FactSet.

The ADP report “missed expectations by a wide margin,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said.

“Although there has been no clear correlation between the ADP data and the non-farm payrolls, the slowdown in hiring in the leisure and hospitality sectors seems to draw some concerns on the rise in virus cases in July bringing about some impact,” he said.

Concerns have been mounting around the coronavirus delta variant’s spread in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and particularly in China, which is on high alert as it confronts hundreds of fresh cases.

China has sealed off residential communities, suspended flights and trains, and ordered mass coronavirus testing in Wuhan, the city where the disease was first detected in late 2019. Although China’s numbers are small compared to outbreaks elsewhere, its containment strategies and the subsequent impact on its large economy are being closely watched.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo closed 0.5% higher at 27,728.12. The Kospi in South Korea lost 0.1% to 3,276.13, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong slipped 0.8% to 26,204.69.

The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.3% to 3,466.55. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.1% to 7,511.10. Shares slipped in Singapore but rose in India, Malaysia and Indonesia.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 22 cents to $67.93 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the price basis for international oils, gave up 29 cents to $70.09 per barrel in London.

“I continue to believe that material selloffs in oil will be short-lived and followed by equally vigorous rallies," Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a note. “A powerful U.S. non-farm payrolls tomorrow would deliver that scenario.”

The U.S. dollar rose to 109.62 Japanese yen from 109.47 yen on Wednesday. The euro retreated to $1.1840 from $1.1843.

Annabelle Liang, The Associated Press

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