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April 2, 2020, 4:55 p.m. EDT

Dow overcomes early stumble to end 470 points higher as Wall Street clings to hope for major oil companies

U.S. jobless claims soar to 6.6 mln in latest week

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By William Watts, MarketWatch , Andrea Riquier


AFP/Getty Images

Stock benchmarks on Thursday finished near the highs of the session, as investors appeared to focus on hope that a detente between some of the biggest oil producers on the planet might be achieved to substantially curb oil production and stabilize battered prices.

A tweet from President Donald Trump on the possibility of a big reduction helped to overshadow data that showed U.S. weekly jobless claims soared to a record.

However, Thursday’s action was marked by an opening swing lower as investors weighed bad news on the public health front and the economy.

What are major indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.07%  closed up 469.93 points, or 2.2%, at 21,413.44, near its intraday peak at 21,477.77, but the blue-chip benchmark touched a low for the day at 20,735.02. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.48%  ended 56.40 points, or 2.28%, higher at 2,526.90, while the Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.29%  gained 126.73 points, or 1.72%, to close at 7,487.31.

What’s driving the market?

Oil and oil-related stocks were the main focus of the action on Thursday, briefly superseding worries about the pandemic and woeful data that highlighted the economic pain exerted by measures to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus.

Stocks surged midmorning Thursday after Trump tweeted that he had been in contact with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and that he expected the Saudis and Russia to cut production by about 10 million barrels a day.

However, commodity experts raised doubts that such a reduction, which Trump at one point said could top 15 million barrels a day, was practical.

“It’s physically impossible for Saudi Arabia and Russia to get 10 million barrels a day off the market—they’d burst their onshore storage and fill every ship in sight,” Edward Marshall, a commodities trader at Global Risk, was quoted as saying by The Wall Street Journal .

The price war, which started in March, pushed crude oil to lose nearly two-thirds of its value in the first quarter, and has slammed the energy sector. The U.S. benchmark /zigman2/quotes/211629951/delayed CL.1 -0.48%  in March slumped to an 18-year low and dipped intraday below $20 a barrel. Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204455864/composite XOM +0.95%  and Chevron Corp . /zigman2/quotes/205871374/composite CVX +0.91% were both up sharply after the announcement but remain roughly 40% lower for the year to date. 

Trump’s tweet also comes a day before the president is scheduled to meet with U.S. oil-company executives on Friday at the White House to discuss possible aid for the industry amid the plummeting oil prices. Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods, Chevron’s Chief Executive Mike Wirth, Occidental Petroleum’ s /zigman2/quotes/207018272/composite OXY -5.06% Chief Executive Vicki Hollub, and Continental Resources /zigman2/quotes/200740136/composite CLR -7.35% Chief Executive Harold Hamm, are expected to be in attendance, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Moves for the market also come as investors confronted grim economic news. Some 6.65 million Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits , doubling the previous week’s record rise of 3.28 million the previous week. Previously, the record first-time claims number was below 700,000.

In a separate report, the government also said that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $39.9 billion in February from $45.5 billion in January.

Countless businesses across the country have been forced to close or scale back hours, throwing masses of people out of work and triggering an unprecedented back-to-back surge in initial jobless claims.

/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime
US : Dow Jones Global
25,383.11
-17.53 -0.07%
Volume: 545.14M
May 29, 2020 5:14p
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/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
3,044.31
+14.58 +0.48%
Volume: 4.38B
May 29, 2020 5:14p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
9,489.87
+120.88 +1.29%
Volume: 4.24M
May 29, 2020 5:16p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/211629951/delayed
US : U.S.: Nymex
$ 35.32
-0.17 -0.48%
Volume: 420,891
May 29, 2020 4:59p
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/zigman2/quotes/204455864/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 45.47
+0.43 +0.95%
Volume: 25.89M
May 29, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
17.08
Dividend Yield
7.65%
Market Cap
$192.26 billion
Rev. per Employee
$3.93M
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/zigman2/quotes/205871374/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 91.70
+0.83 +0.91%
Volume: 17.02M
May 29, 2020 3:59p
P/E Ratio
45.32
Dividend Yield
5.63%
Market Cap
$171.20 billion
Rev. per Employee
$3.27M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207018272/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 12.95
-0.69 -5.06%
Volume: 61.38M
May 29, 2020 3:59p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
3.40%
Market Cap
$11.66 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.60M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200740136/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 12.23
-0.97 -7.35%
Volume: 12.40M
May 29, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
11.39
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$4.47 billion
Rev. per Employee
$3.88M
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