Stocks on Thursday closed modestly higher, led by technology-related companies, against a backdrop of grim economic news and plans by the government to restart long-dormant economies while preventing a fresh outbreak of the deadly pandemic.
What are major indexes doing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.22% closed 33.33 points, or 0.1%, higher to reach 23,537.68, hamstrung by an 8% loss in shares of Boeing Co. /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA +0.53% , while the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.35% advanced 0.4%, or 11.90 points, to end at 2,787. The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +1.25% outperformed its equity-index peers, rising 140.75 points, or 1.6%, to close at 8,734.75.
What’s driving the market?
Uncertainty about the outlook for the business climate in the aftermath of the coronavirus is still swirling around, but negative economic reports didn’t stop investors from picking up health-care and technology-related stocks, which helped to propel the market higher.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained, while Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +1.57% and Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX +0.10% rose 4.4% and 2.9%, respectively. Thursday’s gains put Netflix up 36% year to date and Amazon up 30.3%.
Talk of reopening economies shut down due to the effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic were credited with helping equities bust through a string of downbeat reports.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Thursday was expected to announce guidelines that would allow states to begin reopening certain activities, while other parts of the world, like Germany, are taking steps to restart their economies.
“News that the lockdown is coming to an end will be the ultimate pickup for stocks. However, this needs to come hand in hand with evidence that a second wave of coronavirus infections isn’t around the corner,” said Fiona Cincotta, market analyst at City Index.
Investors pored over a parade of woeful U.S. data on Thursday, with initial jobless claims figures at 5.25 million, enough to push the unemployment rate to at least 15%. More than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs in the past month.
“Today’s data suggest that weekly increases in claims seem to be past their peak,” said Andrew Grantham of CIBC Economics. “Also, for the third week in a row, the print for continuing claims (lagged one week vs initial claims) came in below the consensus expectation.” That suggests that “at least some of the claims have been short-term in nature,” Grantham added.
The data on Thursday, which including housing starts at its worst monthly decline sine 1984 and a poor reading of business activity in the Philadelphia area, came after ugly economic reports on Wednesday.
Which companies are in focus?
Shares of BlackRock Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207946232/composite BLK +2.44% , the world’s largest asset manager, booked a 3.6% gain after reporting first-quarter profit that came in below expectations but saw revenues beat forecasts.