Following the mixed performance seen in the previous session, stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday. With the upward move, the Dow reached another new record closing high.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, reaching new highs for the session. The Dow jumped 318.19 points or 0.9 percent to 34,548.53, the Nasdaq rose 50.42 points or 0.4 percent to 13,632.84 and the S&P 500 climbed 34.03 points or 0.8 percent to 4,201.62.

The strength that emerged on Wall Street came 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 seemed overshadow concerns about potential monetary policy tightening that weighed on stocks earlier in the day.

Sector News

Gold stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the session, resulting in a 3.9 percent spike by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.

The rally by gold stocks came amid a substantial increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for June delivery soaring $31.40 to $1,815.70 an ounce.

Significant strength was also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.8 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index once again reached its best closing level in nearly ten years.

Telecom stocks also turned in a strong performance on the day, driving the NYSE Arca North American Telecom Index up by 1.9 percent to a four-year closing high.

Networking, computer hardware and oil service stocks also saw notable strength, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

Other Markets

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 extended 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, fell by 2.3 basis points to 1.561 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Friday is likely to be impacted by reaction to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, which could affect views on the outlook for the economy and monetary policy.

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