US stocks slide as biggest jobless-claims surge since March outweighs stimulus expectations

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

  • US stocks ended Thursday lower as investors digested a surge in weekly jobless claims. 
  • The reading of 965,000 new unemployment filings represented the biggest increase since March and the highest level since August.
  • The weak jobs report could give fuel to Democrats passing a massive stimulus bill once President-elect biden is inaugurated.
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US stocks ended Thursday lower as investors digested a surge in weekly jobless claims.

Jobless claims surged to 965,000 for the week that ended on Saturday, representing the biggest surge since March and the highest level since August. Economists had expected 800,000 jobless claims for the week.

Consumer confidence also took a hit, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, which fell 1.2 points to 43.2 in the week ended January 10. 

But the weak reading in jobless claims could give Democrats more fuel to pass a massive multi-trillion-dollar stimulus bill to help hasten the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Thursday:

  • S&P 500: 3,795.54, down 0.4%
  • Dow Jones industrial average: 30,991.52, down 0.2% (69 points)
  • Nasdaq composite: 13,112.64, down 0.1%

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Two Democratic aides familiar with the discussions told Insider that Senate Democrats were weighing whether to combine infrastructure spending and coronavirus relief legislation into one bill that wouldn’t require Republican votes to pass. The discussions reflect Democrats’ desire to swiftly capitalize on their majorities in the House and the Senate following the runoff elections in Georgia.

Bitcoin rebounded on Thursday and reclaimed the $39,000 level following a sell-off of more than 20% from its record high above $40,000. On Wednesday, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called for Bitcoin to be regulated globally.

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The IPO frenzy of 2020 spilled over into 2021, evidenced by Thursday’s trading debut surge in Poshmark and Petco, which soared as much as 150% and 73% respectively.

Virgin Galactic jumped as much as 22% after Ark Invest disclosed plans to launch an exchange-traded fund focused on the space-exploration industry.

Plug Power fell 8% after JPMorgan initiated coverage of the hydrogen-fuel-cell manufacturer at “neutral” and set a $60 price target, representing downside potential of 14% from Wednesday’s close.

Oil prices rose. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 1.6%, to $53.73 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, gained 0.8%, to $56.53 per barrel, at intraday highs.

Gold rose as much as 0.7%, to $1,857.59 per ounce.

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