US stocks rebound as CDC lifts mask requirements; bitcoin tumbles

·3-min read
US President Joe Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris by his side, spoke after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dramatically eased mask-wearing guidelines

Bouncing back after three down sessions, Wall Street stocks saw solid gains on Thursday in trading marked by bargain hunting as well as optimism after US officials lifted an indoor mask mandate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed mask requirements for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a watershed moment in the pandemic that comes more than a year after the federal government recommended people cover their faces in public.

"If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC director Rochelle Walensky said.

All three major US indices won solid gains following a mixed session in Europe and broad losses in Asia.

The CDC action "provided renewed steam for rebound rally that was losing its luster," said Briefing.com, alluding to a midday pullback in equities that preceded the mask announcement.

The Dow finished up 1.3 percent at 34,021.45. The blue-chip index is still down 2.2 percent for the week after losing ground the last three days.

Earlier, the Labor Department reported 473,000 new applications for jobless benefits made in the week ended May 8, fewer than expected and 34,000 less than the previous week's upwardly revised level.

But wholesale price inflation in the United States surged 6.2 percent in April compared to the same month in 2020, the highest on record.

In other markets, bitcoin prices tanked, falling around 10 percent to under $50,000 following Tesla's announcement that it will halt transactions in the cryptocurrency because of environmental concerns.

"We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel," Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said in a tweet.

"Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this can not come at great cost to the environment."

Oil prices also pulled back as the Colonial Pipeline resumed fuel deliveries after shutting down its network following a ransomware attack on its computer systems late Friday.

Analysts said oil prices were pressured by fears the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates more quickly than expected due to inflation.

- Key figures around 2040 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 1.3 percent at 34,021.45 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 1.2 percent at 4,112.50 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.7 percent at 13,124.99 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.6 percent at 6,963.33 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 15,199.68 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 6,288.33 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,952.45 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 2.5 percent at 27,448.01 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.8 percent at 27,718.67 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 3,429.54 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2085 from $1.2072 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: FLAT at $1.4054

Euro/pound: UP at 85.95 pence from 85.89 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.44 yen from 109.67 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 3.3 percent at $67.05 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 3.4 percent at $63.82 per barrel

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