Traders working at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), on May 19, 2021.
U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday as investors cheered stronger-than-expected labor-market data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 138.83 points, or 0.4%, to 34,461.75. The S&P 500 inched up 0.1% to 4,200.60. The Nasdaq Composite ended the session flat at 13,736.28. Shares of Boeing advanced 3.9% on optimism about an economic recovery.
Gains for the overall market were capped however, as investors lightened up on technology shares as they rotated into cyclical stocks. Microsoft, Netflix, Alphabet and Apple all registered losses.
Initial jobless claims fell to 406,000, hitting a new pandemic low and much less than expected, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected a total of 425,000 Americans to have filed unemployment benefits in the week ended May 22.
“The jobless claims print has been on a declining trend and this week’s figures mark a pandemic low,” said Ali Jaffari, head of North American capital markets at Validus Risk Management. “As the U.S. economy progresses with its vaccination program and reopening measures, employment and labor force participation are expected to pick up in the coming months.”
In a separate report, the Commerce Department left its initial estimate on first-quarter gross domestic product unchanged at 6.4%
Snowflake shares fell 4% after the data-analytics software company reported widening losses. Nvidia‘s stock dipped slightly even after the chip giant’s earnings and sales for the first quarter both beat Wall Street expectations. Its revenue grew 88% compared to last year.
Meme stocks, which have jumped this week amid a resurgence in speculative trading, turned higher again on Thursday. GameStop last traded up 1%. AMC Entertainment erased earlier gains and popped another 10%.
Ford was higher again, with the stock up nearly 6% following an upgrade by RBC. The stock jumped 8% on Wednesday after unveiling its electric vehicle strategy.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled their $928 billion infrastructure counteroffer to President Joe Biden’s $1.7 trillion proposal. Republicans again rejected Biden’s call to raise corporate taxes, contending they could cover infrastructure costs with funds already allocated by Congress or with transportation user fees.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on congressional leaders to step up spending, saying that inflation-adjusted spending has remained stagnant for 11 years.
Thursday’s moves followed a relatively quiet session on Wall Street. The S&P 500 eked out a 0.2% gain in light trading, supported by gains in shares tied to the economic reopening including airlines and cruise line operators. The blue-chip Dow finished Wednesday’s session little changed, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.6%.
Trading is expected to be muted ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
“Equity markets are quiet as investors continue to anticipate the Fed’s next move,” said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide. “Low volatility and low trading volume are a frequent occurrence in the week leading into a holiday.”