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Stocks move higher, Bitcoin touches new record

·3-min read
Bitcoin struck a fresh record high Thursday

US and European stocks moved higher on Thursday as investors digested company updates and awaited developments on US stimulus, dealers said, while Bitcoin struck a fresh high.

Lackluster US unemployment claims data helped keep investors confident that lawmakers would approve a fiscal stimulus package, especially following comments Wednesday by US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell about the dire state of the labor market.

The Dow dipped, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite once again posted new all-time highs.

US government data showed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits dipped by just 19,000 to 793,000 last week.

The still-high claims level "means, in the stock market's mind... it will invite more stimulus," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick J O'Hare.

In Europe, gains in Paris and Frankfurt were capped by news that the EU has slashed this year's eurozone economic growth forecast to 3.8 percent from 4.2 percent, citing the impact of Covid-19 curbs.

Meanwhile, bitcoin struck a fresh high of $48,663.05 as the cryptocurrency gained further mainstream support.

After Tesla on Monday said that it had bought $1.5 billion in the cryptocurrency and would soon accept it in payment, US bank BNY Mellon on Thursday announced it will manage digital assets for clients.

"The corporate support just keeps on coming," said analyst Neil Wilson at Markets.com. "It's a big deal since BNY is the first big national custodial bank to offer custody services for crypto assets."

As US earnings season wound down, Disney reported after markets closed that its streaming services have grown to 146 million subscribers, closing in on Netflix, even while revenue of its parks and cruise line plunged more than 50 percent.

Disney shares were up 3.0 percent in after-hours trading.

- Ailing banks -

Europe's financial sector was in focus after Germany's second-largest lender Commerzbank confirmed that it plunged into a 2.9 billion euro ($3.5 billion) net loss in 2020 on pandemic fallout and restructuring costs.

Commerzbank stock fell by 5.6 percent to 5.12 euros in Frankfurt.

On the upside, Volkswagen shares rose 2.7 percent to 164.36 euros after the German auto giant and US tech leader Microsoft revealed a tie-up to develop autonomous vehicle driving systems.

Asian stock markets closed mixed after a strong run-up in recent weeks.

Trade was thinned by holidays in major markets, notably the Chinese New Year, which will see most of the region closed for several days, while Hong Kong shut after a half-session.

- Key figures around 2200 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN less than 0.1 percent to 31,430.30 points (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent to 3,916.38 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.4 percent to 14,025.77 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent to 3,671.68 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP less than 0.1 to 6,528.72 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent to 14,040.91 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN less than 0.1 percent to 5,669.82 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent to 30,173.57 (close)

Sydney - S&P/ASX 200: DOWN 0.1 percent to 6,850.10 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3816 from $1.3834 at 2200 GMT

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2131 from $1.2118

Euro/pound: UP at 87.77 pence from 87.58 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 104.74 yen from 104.59 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.0 percent at $60.88 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.3 percent at $57.91 per barrel

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