European markets were mostly higher Thursday as U.S. lawmakers appeared to be nearing an agreement on a new pandemic financial rescue package.

At midday, the CAC-40 index in Paris was 0.3% higher, while the DAX index in Frankfurt gained 0.7%. London’s FTSE index was down over two points, but unchanged in percentage terms (-0.03%).

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region posted strong gains earlier in the trading day. The Nikkei index in Tokyo finished 0.1% higher. The S&P/ASX index in Sydney gained 1.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.8%, with Shanghai’s Composite closing 1.1% higher.

The KOSPI in Seoul lost over 1 point, but was unchanged in percentage terms (-0.05%), while Taiwan’s TSEC index lost 0.3%. The Sensex in Mumbai was up 0.4%.

In commodities trading, gold was selling at $1,882.50 per ounce, up 1.2%. U.S. crude oil was selling at $47.96 per barrel, up 0.2%, and Brent crude oil was selling at $51.17 per barrel, up 0.1%.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans reportedly were putting the final touches on a $900 billion package that includes new direct payments of at least $600 to most Americans, renews unemployment benefits, provides financial support for struggling small businesses and funds distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Ahead of Wall Street’s opening bell, all three major U.S. indices continued to trend higher in futures trading.

Source: Voice of America