Stimulus woes drive risky assets higher

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    NEW YORK—Growing prospects for a US coronavirus relief package after a grim employment report helped boost demand for riskier assets, sending major stock benchmarks to new records and oil prices to their highest since March when widespread lockdowns aimed at curtailing the pandemic took effect.

    US Treasury bonds, meanwhile, dipped in anticipation of increased borrowing to fund economic recovery measures.

    The US economy added the fewest workers in six months in November, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by 245,000 jobs last month after rising by 610,000 in October, the Labor Department said on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls would increase by 469,000 jobs in November.

    “It shows that the economy is still not on firm footing and we need stimulus. The revitalized conversations are important, and this shows that ultimately maybe a bad number will get the politicians to push forward a bit faster,” said Marvin Loh, senior global macro strategist at State Street Global Markets.

    A bipartisan $908 billion coronavirus aid plan gained momentum in the US Congress on Thursday as conservative lawmakers expressed their support.

    The hopes for a quicker passage of a stimulus bill helped push global stock benchmarks to record highs. MSCI’s gauge of stocks around the globe gained 0.71 percent following mixed trading in Asia and modest gains in Europe.

    On Wall Street, stock indexes reached fresh all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 248.74 points, or 0.83 percent, to 30,218.26, the S&P 500 gained 32.4 points, or 0.88 percent, to 3,699.12 and the Nasdaq Composite added 87.05 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,464.23.