The major U.S. stock indexes finished higher on Thursday in a lackluster trade as some major players sat on the sidelines ahead of Friday’s U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls report, and as investors awaited a new fiscal aid package to prop up the country’s economy, with weekly initial claims revealing that 31.3 million Americans were receiving unemployment checks in mid-July.
In the cash market on Thursday, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 3349.16, up 21.39 or +0.71%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 27386.98, up 185.46 or +0.74% and the technology-based NASDAQ Composite closed at 109.67 or +1.16%.
The tech-driven NASDAQ reached a new record high in early trading. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index and the Dow remained within striking distance of their all-time highs, finishing about 1% and 7% respectively away from their own peaks scaled in February.
Tech and tech-related heavyweight stocks such as Apple and Facebook helped pace gains on the indexes. The tech-heavy NASDAQ closed above the 11,000-mark for the first time after initially climbing above it on Wednesday.
Economic data released on Thursday painted a mixed picture as Labor Department numbers showed the first decline in jobless claims in three weeks, while a separate report showed a 54% surge in job cuts announced by employers in July, Reuters reported.
Top Congressional Democrats and White House officials tried again on Thursday to find a compromise on major issues including the size of a federal benefit for the unemployed as they work toward relief legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday Republicans and Democrats remained far apart over what to include in another wave of relief.
Sectors and Stocks
Communication services led gains among major S&P sectors.
Western Digital sank 16.7% after the hard drive maker reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue and forecast a soft current quarter.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd and hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. reversed course after dropping in early trade. Both companies reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss as their businesses were ravaged by the pandemic, Reuters reported.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. gained 3.2% after the drug maker raised its annual profit forecast on hopes of a recovery in demand for its hospital-administered drugs.
ViacomCBS Inc. jumped 5.1% after beating analysts’ estimates for quarterly revenue due to high demand for streaming, Reuters reported.
The S&P Index recorded 14 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the NASDAQ recorded 103 new highs and one new low.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.