US stocks end higher despite protests, rising China tensions

The New York Stock Exchange.

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks finished higher on Monday (Jun 1), shrugging off unrest in many cities following anti-racism protests and worsening US-China tensions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 91.91 points (0.36 per cent) to 25,475.02.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 11.42 points (0.38 per cent) to 3,055.73, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 62.18 points (0.66 per cent) to 9,552.05.

US cities braced on Monday for more fury on the streets following outrage at the killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Mayor Bill de Blasio added New York City to the growing list of major American metropolises under curfew orders. The protests come as Latinos and African Americans have suffered disproportionate rates of death and hospitalisation from the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite the chaotic layering-on of the protests with a public health crisis, analysts said markets have historically shrugged off civil disruptions.

“Generally speaking, social type of violence doesn’t really come in as a market factor,” said LBBW’s Karl Haeling.

“Today though it got people a little concerned because it could hurt consumer confidence, it could spread COVID, delay the reopening maybe,” he said. “But on the other side of that, this could make Congress more willing to come though with a fiscal package.”

Hopes about the reopening of US states have lifted the markets significantly from March lows, although this week’s economic data is again expected to be ugly.

One report on Monday showed the manufacturing sector stabilised but “extremely depressed,” in the words of one analyst. The calendar includes also the May jobs report and an update on conditions in the services sector.

Markets also disregarded China’s pointed reaction to President Donald Trump’s announcements targeting the country over a Hong Kong security law.

“Any words and actions that harm the interests of China will be met with counter-attacks on the Chinese side,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a press briefing Monday.

But markets have taken solace in the signs that rising US-China tensions do not threaten a trade detente between the two countries.

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