US equities closed mixed as investors cheered encouraging jobless claims data and progress toward a stimulus-package compromise.
The Nasdaq composite closed at a record high, while the S&P 500 lost its record close in the final hour of trading amid concerns a vaccine rollout will be slower than expected.
Early-day gains came as lawmakers warmed up to the $908 billion proposal Democratic leaders embraced on Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t said whether he will raise his own offer to reach an agreement, but he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke Thursday afternoon about the omnibus spending bill and additional fiscal stimulus.
New weekly claims for unemployment insurance totaled an unadjusted 712,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a reading of 775,000. The decline snapped a two-week streak of increases for initial filings.
Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET market close on Thursday:
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Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving unemployment benefits, fell to 5.5 million for the week that ended November 21. That also landed below the consensus estimate.
Some economists fear the decline in jobless claims can largely be attributed to the Thanksgiving holiday, and that filings will again swing higher in the coming weeks.
“The drop in claims reported today reverses the increases of the past two weeks, but it would be a mistake to regard the decline as mere mean reversion,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said. “The drop is the fluke, not the increases which preceded it.”
Investors will get another look at how the labor market is recovering on Friday when the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes its November nonfarm payrolls report. Economists expect the US economy to have added 486,000 payrolls through the month. The unemployment rate is forecasted to dip 0.1 points to 6.8%.
Utilities and materials lagged the market’s upswing. Energy and real estate stocks outperformed.
Thursday’s gains pull the S&P 500 to record highs for the third straight day. Stocks erased morning losses and closed higher on Wednesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer backed the $908 billion stimulus measure.
Boeing led the Dow higher as shares surged on optimism around the return of its 737 Max jet. Ryanair Holdings placed a 75-jet order for the model, marking the largest purchase yet since the plane was grounded nearly two years ago.
Go to the news source: Nasdaq closes at record high as Congress inches toward stimulus deal