Global Stock Market

Stocks Waver as Jobless Claims Rise

U.S. stocks wavered around the flatline Thursday, pausing after two strong days of gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 62 points, or 0.2%, to 34730. The S&P 500 fell less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2%.

Stocks had resumed their monthslong rally earlier in the week, erasing most of their losses from the sharp drop Monday when the spread of the Delta variant raised alarms about renewed lockdown measures. Investors have since sent the major indexes back up to less than 1% below their all-time highs.

The focus is now on the corporate earnings season, with many companies reporting results that have exceeded Wall Street’s expectations.

Covid-19 strain known as Delta is in at least 60 countries including the U.S. and likely to spread world-wide, Covid-19 Genomics UK Chair Dr. Sharon Peacock tells WSJ’s Betsy McKay at the WSJ Tech Health event.

“The earnings results have continued to be strong and guidance is showing that the delta variant isn’t impacting the recovery, so far at least,” said

Esty Dwek,

head of global market strategy at Natixis Investment Managers. “That is giving confidence to the market that the recovery can continue.”

Intel,

Twitter

and Snap are set to report earnings after markets close.

Semiconductor company

Texas Instruments

slipped 4.8% after it signaled a likely slowdown in growth in the third quarter.

Casino operator Las Vegas Sands declined 3.9% after it reported revenue that missed analysts’ estimates and a bigger loss than expected.

Domino’s Pizza rose 11% after reporting earnings that beat estimates and disclosing a new share repurchase program.

Earlier Thursday, the Labor Department’s latest data on jobless claims, viewed as a proxy for layoffs, showed that 419,000 people applied for unemployment insurance last week. That was up from the preceding week. Economists had been expecting claims to fall to a new pandemic low.

“Some choppiness is to be expected,” said

Sebastien Galy,

a macro strategist at

Nordea Asset Management.

NDA.FI 0.22%

The report suggests the Federal Reserve can continue offering monetary stimulus for longer, he added. “The choppiness allows them not to be pressured into tapering,” he said.

In cryptocurrency markets, bitcoin rose from its 5 p.m. ET level, trading around $32,112. The cryptocurrency rallied Wednesday after Tesla Chief Executive

Elon Musk

said both he and his rocket company SpaceX hold bitcoin.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.6%.

Traders gathered for the IPO of VTEX at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.



Photo:

brendan mcdermid/Reuters

The European Central Bank left key interest rates unchanged in its latest monetary policy decision and said it may keep rates at current levels or below until it sees inflation stabilizing at 2%.

Benchmark Italian, Spanish and Portuguese government bonds rallied on the prospect of longer-term monetary support. The yield on Spain’s 10-year bond declined to 0.230% from 0.280% on Wednesday.

“The language used by the ECB is now more forceful, in the sense that it is tying interest rates to its 2% target to show its strength,” said Xian Chan, chief investment officer at HSBC Wealth Management. “This news should be a short-term positive for European stocks and the overall recovery trade, providing additional support especially amid rising nerves over the Delta variant.”

Among European equities,

Unilever

shed 6% after posting a decrease in pretax profit for the first half of the year.

In Asia, most major benchmarks rose by the close of trading. The Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.3%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 1.8%. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at anna.hirtenstein@wsj.com and Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com

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