Gains for U.S. stocks faded late-morning Thursday as investors digested a stronger-than-expected monthly employment report amid rising numbers of new coronavirus cases.
U.S. financial markets will be closed on Friday and the bond market will close an hour early at 2 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday with the Independence Day holiday observed on Friday instead of July 4th.
How are benchmarks performing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 125 points, or 0.5%, to trade near 25,868, while the S&P 500 index
added 18 points, or 0.6%, to reach 3,135. The Nasdaq Composite Index
gained 77 points, 0.8%, and was trading near 10,230.
All three benchmarks were off their best levels of the session, which came near the start of Thursday’s trading action.
For the holiday-shortened week, the Dow is set for a 3.5% gain, the S&P 500 is on pace to return 4.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index was aiming for a 6.6% weekly return, at last check.
What’s driving the market?
The U.S. added 4.8 million jobs in June compared with expectations for a rise of 3.7 million and the unemployment rate fell for the second straight month to 11.1%, but the economy’s recuperation from the coronavirus might already be suffering a setback from a renewed surge in cases.
Millions of Americans have returned to work since states began to reopen business activity in May, but the economy has a long way to go to get back to normal. The U.S. lost more than 22 million jobs during the height of the pandemic and only restored 7.5 million of them in the past two months.
Meanwhile, in weekly data also published Thursday new applications for traditional jobless benefits continued to slow, falling to 14.3 million in the seven days ended June 27 from 1.48 million in the prior week. However, the number of people receiving traditional jobless benefits rose 59,000 in the week ended June 20 to 19.29 million.
“June’s further 4.8 million jobs, added to the 2.5 million unexpectedly added in May, has turbocharged investor sentiment, both for US equities and the dollar,” said Ulas Akincilar, head of trading at the online trading platform INFINOX.
However, the U.S. saw 52,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, a new one-day record in the U.S. and some states have had to close down business activity again as a result.
If June’s market ups and downs felt like a Ping-Pong match, that is because it marked a market consolidation phase, said Katie Stockton, market technician and founder of Fairlead Strategies.
The selloff in early June, followed by a few weeks of consolidation, was “healthy, as it relieved overbought conditions,” Stockton said in an interview. “We’re getting a bit more constructive now, though there’s still what I would consider to be a healthy level of skepticism out there. That can fuel an uptrend whether it makes sense fundamentally or not.“
Look for headlines and sentiment to drive the market from here on, Stockton said, since investors feel like “we don’t have any visibility into the fundamentals of the economy.”
In other economic reports on Thursday, a reading of factory orders showed a 0.8% rise in May, the first in three months.
Which stocks are in focus?
- Shares of Tesla Inc.
jumped 7% after a Wedbush analyst boosted his stock price target to $2,000.
- PayPal Inc. shares
were 0.2% higher in early morning action after an analyst upped his stock price target to $200 from $176.
- Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc.
shares slipped 0.1% after the Securities and Exchange Commission said the company would pay $21 million to resolve charges that it paid Russian and Turkish officials to promote its immunosuppressive drug Soliris.
- Shares of Alaska Air Group Inc.
rose more 2% after the airline said it had secured $1.2 billion in private funding.
How are other assets performing?
West Texas Intermediate U.S. crude
for August delivery rose 57 cents, 1.4%, to $40.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, in part thanks to dwindling inventories. In precious metals, August gold futures
rose $6.80, or 0.4%, to $1,786.70 an ounce.
The 10-year Treasury note yield
was up 1 basis point at 0.688% after the strong jobs report pushed investors into riskier assets. Bond prices move inversely to yields.
The greenback fell 0.1% against a basket of its major rivals, based on trading in the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
In Asian markets overnight, the Japanese Nikkei
edged up 0.1%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng
throttled nearly 3% higher, and the Shanghai Composite Index
closed up 2.1%.