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US stocks edge towards new records after jobless claims fall more than expected



a man standing in front of a computer screen: Getty Images / Xinhua News Agency


© Getty Images / Xinhua News Agency
Getty Images / Xinhua News Agency

  • US stocks gained slightly on Thursday after falling jobless claims offered an encouraging sign of labor-market improvement.
  • New weekly claims for unemployment insurance totaled an unadjusted 712,000 for the week that ended Saturday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a reading of 775,000.
  • The mild uptick puts the S&P 500 at the brink of yet another record high. Stocks edged higher on Wednesday after Democrats embraced a bipartisan stimulus deal calling for $908 billion in relief funds.
  • Oil wavered ahead of a key OPEC+ decision on production cuts. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 1.4%, to $44.66 per barrel, before paring losses.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities rose modestly on Thursday after encouraging jobless claims data revived hope for a labor-market recovery.

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.

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.

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

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Still, some economists fear the decline can largely be attributed to the Thanksgiving holiday, and that claims 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%.

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Thursday’s gains pull the S&P 500 to the brink of another record after choppy trading the session prior. Stocks erased morning losses and closed higher on Wednesday as legislators took their biggest steps yet toward reaching a stimulus compromise. While a deal hasn’t yet been finalized, Democratic lawmakers embraced a bipartisan proposal that includes $908 billion in relief funds. The move puts pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to accept the measure.

Tesla gained after Goldman Sachs upgraded its shares to “buy” from “neutral” in a note to clients. The bank also lifted its price target for the automaker to $780, implying a 37% rally from Wednesday’s close over the next 12 months.

CrowdStrike jumped after its fiscal third-quarter report beat expectations for profit and revenue. The cybersecurity firm also lifted its current-quarter guidance above Wall Street’s estimates.

Read more: Zoom has soared 497% this year. 3 analysts — including one of the most accurate in tech — break down whether you should buy, hold, or sell the stock as a vaccine becomes widely available.

Bitcoin rose to a 24-hour high of $19,466.58, further retracing its Tuesday losses.

Spot gold edged as much as 0.7% higher, to $1,844.02 per ounce. The US dollar weakened against a basket of Group-of-20 currencies and Treasury yields dipped.

Oil prices wavered ahead of a critical OPEC+ decision on gradually reversing production cuts. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 1.4%, to $44.66 per barrel, before paring losses. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, slid 1.2%, to $47.68 per barrel, before similarly erasing the drop.

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