Major U.S. stock indexes climb to record levels

The S&P 500 climbed for a third day, even with Republicans and Democrats still unable to reach an agreement that would assist millions of Americans who face losing virus-era assistance later this month. Investors earlier took an unexpectedly large rise in jobless claims as a sign the two sides would be prodded toward a deal.

The dollar slumped, Treasury yields rose and oil advanced. Bitcoin breached $23,000 for the first time.

The S&P 500 gained 0.6% to end the day at 3,722.48, and the Nasdaq rose 0.8%, to 12,764.75. The Dow Jones industrial average increased 148 points, or 0.5%, to 30,303. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit intraday and closing records. The Dow posted its highest closing level.

With the clock ticking to renew pandemic aid, leaders in Washington are under pressure to resolve their differences after months of deadlock amid signs of a faltering economic recovery. The country continues to set records for virus infections and deaths, with more jurisdictions tightening lockdowns in a renewed therat to the economy.

In Europe, lawmakers cleared the bloc’s 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.2 trillion) stimulus package on Wednesday. Cyclical shares such as miners and retailers rose on news that the rollout of a Covid vaccine would begin this month. The pound climbed and the euro rose to the highest since April 2018 as officials cautiously predicted a Brexit deal within days. Both held their gains after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “big differences” remain.

“Investors know that the environment for businesses and for earnings is going to be good in the medium and long-term,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank. “The global economy and the U.S. in particular is going to go through a tough patch here in the next few months. However, the central banks and the future looks good.”

Emmanuel Macron’s office said he’d tested positive for the coronavirus. The French president, 42, will self-isolate during seven days, while continuing to work, his office said. The number of virus deaths reached another daily record in the U.S., while the first known allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine was reported in Alaska as some snarls began to emerge in the effort to send the shots across the country.

Elsewhere, oil held gains in the wake of a surprise decline in U.S. crude inventories. Stocks across Asia saw modest advances.

Policy decisions from central banks in Japan and Russia are due Friday.

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