Stocks have moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday, more than offsetting the weakness seen early in the session. With the upward move, the Dow has reached another new record intraday high.
Currently, the major averages are all in positive territory, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq is up just 14.12points or 0.1 percent at 13,596.55. The Dow is up 177.93 points or 0.5 percent at 34,408.27 and the S&P 500 is up 15.90 points or 0.4 percent at 4,183.49.
The strength that has emerged on Wall Street comes following the release of a Labor Department report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by much more than expected in the week ended May 1st.
The report said initial jobless claims slid to 498,000, a decrease of 92,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 590,000.
Economists had expected initial jobless claims to edge down to 540,000 from the 553,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The bigger than expected decrease once again dragged jobless claims down their lowest level since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Claims have declined by 33% since the start of April, further confirmation that a recovery in the labor market is well underway,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Oxford Economics. “We expect more evidence of that recovery in tomorrow’s April jobs report.”
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report for April.
Economists currently expect employment to jump by 978,000 jobs in April after surging up by 916,000 jobs in May. The unemployment rate is also expected to dip to 5.8 percent from 6.0 percent.
Optimism about the economic outlook seems to have overshadowed the concerns about potential monetary policy tightening that weighed on stocks earlier in the day.
Gold stocks have moved sharply higher over the course of the session, resulting in a 4.3 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.
The rally by gold stocks comes amid a substantial increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for June delivery soaring $31.20 to $1,85.50 an ounce.
Significant strength has also emerged among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index has once again reached its best intraday level in nearly ten years.
Telecom and networking stocks have also moved to the upside on the day, while some weakness remains visible among brokerage and natural gas stocks.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 1.8 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.2 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside over the course of the session. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries are extending the upward trend seen over the past few sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.8 basis points at 1.566 percent.
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