Stocks rose Thursday as the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits pointed to a gradual recovery in the labor market and investors focused on movement on a potential stimulus bill that has been deadlocked in Congress for months.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 149 points, or 0.5%, to 30,033, the S&P 500 gained 0.07% and the Nasdaq rose 0.34%.
Boeing led the Dow higher, rising 7.6%, after receiving a big order from Dublin-based Ryanair for the company’s 737 MAX jet, the aircraft that has been grounded since March 2019.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq traded at record intraday highs.
Jobless claims were lower than expected last week as companies ramped up hiring ahead of the critical holiday shopping season. The Labor Department reported that 712,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits in the week ended Nov. 28, down from a revised 787,000 claims the week earlier.
It was the first decline in initial jobless claims in three weeks. The data was released a day after the U.S. recorded the deadliest day for Covid-19 fatalities, with more than 2,700 Americans dying from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of Covid-19 patients in U.S. hospitals topped 100,000 for the first time.
The enthusiasm that followed Great Britain becoming the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine – the shot from Pfizer and BioNTech – was dented by the realization the U.S. could be in for a very difficult winter until a vaccine is widely distributed.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that total deaths from Covid-19 could reach “close to 450,000” by February unless Americans take greater precautions.
“The reality is, December and January and February are going to be rough times,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the CDC. “I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”
Los Angeles ordered residents to stay home, with Mayor Eric Garcetti warning the city was approaching a “devastating tipping point” in its fight against Covid-19.
On Wednesday, the S&P 500 posted its second straight record close after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for stimulus talks to begin. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress on Wednesday to approve a Covid-19 relief bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday there were “hopeful signs” Congress could agree on a coronavirus relief bill before year-end.
Oil prices in the U.S. rose 0.93% to $45.70 on Thursday as OPEC leaders, as well as non-member allies such as Russia, reached an agreement to cut production next year more gradually than previously planned.
This article was originally published by TheStreet.