US stocks trade mixed after jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since March

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

  • US stocks traded mixed on Thursday after weekly unemployment claims dipped below 1 million for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic drove historic job losses.
  • Claims for jobless benefits dropped to 963,000 for the week that ended on Saturday, the Labor Department said. The reading handily beat economists’ estimate of 1.1 million claims.
  • Investors continued to wait for progress in stimulus bill negotiations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday rebuffed the White House’s criticism of Democrats and said the party would resume talks when the administration starts “to take this process seriously.”
  • Oil declined slightly after the International Energy Agency cut demand forecasts for 2020 and 2021. West Texas Intermediate crude sank as much as 0.6%, to $42.40.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities traded mixed on Thursday after weekly jobless claims declined below 1 million for the first time since mid-March.

Claims for unemployment insurance fell to 963,000 for the week that ended on Saturday, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The reading landed well below the 1.1 million estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

It was also the lowest number of weekly claims since the coronavirus pandemic slammed the US economy. Claims had landed above 1 million every week since March 21.

Continuing claims, which measure the aggregate total of people receiving unemployment benefits, landed at 15.5 million for the week that ended on August 1, a decline from the prior period’s revised number.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET market open on Thursday:

  • S&P 500: 3,376.30, down 0.1%
  • Dow Jones industrial average: 27,882.81, down 0.3% (94 points)
  • Nasdaq composite: 11,053.91, up 0.4%

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The better-than-expected jobs data lifted stocks from a modest decline in early trading. Indexes’ steady rally has recently slowed as investors’ patience for a stimulus bill has waned.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knocked the White House on Wednesday, saying that Democrats were “willing to resume negotiations” when the Trump administration starts “to take this process seriously.” Democrats and Republicans remain far apart in their plans for economic stimulus.

The S&P 500 was less than 1% from a record high on Thursday. The index closed just below its peaks in the past two trading sessions as investors fluctuated between tech mega-caps and neglected cyclical stocks.

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Apple drove indexes higher, gaining after Bloomberg reported that the company planned to sell a bundle of its digital services at a discounted price. Other tech giants posted mild gains.

Gold continued its climb back to $2,000 after notching its biggest loss in seven years on Tuesday.

Treasury yields gained as investors braced for an auction of 30-year bonds.

Oil prices dipped slightly after the International Energy Agency slashed its forecast for demand in 2020 and 2021. West Texas Intermediate crude sank as much as 0.6%, to $42.40. Brent crude, the international benchmark, declined 0.6%, to $45.14, at intraday lows.

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