Nasdaq at Record - Stocks Higher on Jobless Claims, Stimulus Talks

The Nasdaq records its 32nd record high of 2020 while Wall Street awaits word of a stimulus package.
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The Nasdaq Composite posted yet another record Thursday, closing above 11,000 for the first time, as tech stocks came on strong and weekly jobless claims came in lower than expected amid continued hopes for a coronavirus stimulus negotiations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 185 points, or 0.68%, to 27,387, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.64% to 3,349.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq, which also hit an intraday high, finished up 1% to 11,108.

Tech giants such as Facebook  (FB) - Get Report, Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report and Google parent Alphabet  (GOOG) - Get Report were all advancing.

Stocks closed higher on Wednesday with the Nasdaq posting another record close.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ending Aug. 1 totaled 1.186 million, the lowest level since the pandemic began. Economists polled by FactSet had been expecting 1.3 million claims up to last Saturday.

"Falling unemployment insurance claims is a positive sign the recovery is progressing cautiously," said Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. 

"However, this report also shows that unemployment benefits remain a vital life preserver for tens of millions of Americans during a health and economic crisis."

A stalled recovery, Zhao said, "could have a prolonged impact on how quickly the economy can recover long term.”

On Wednesday ADP reported that private payrolls grew by 167,000 last month, below FactSet's estimate of 1.034 million. It was also down from the revised 4.3 million positions created in June, though the June number was revised higher from an originally reported 2.37 million gain.

The Labor Department will release its broadest picture of July employment on Friday in the monthly jobs report. Economists surveyed by FactSet are forecasting that 1.5 million jobs were added last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 10.6% from 11.1% in June.

Democrats and Republicans are set to continue their week-long negotiations in the nation's capital Thursday. They remain trillions of dollars apart on their respective stimulus plans as Americans look for financial support after emergency unemployment benefits expired last Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNBC Thursday that both sides will reach a deal "in the near future."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters in Washington that she was "optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel" with respect to negotiations with her Republican rivals. But she noted that "how long that tunnel is remains to be seen."

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN Wednesday that President Donald Trump would address unemployment insurance and an eviction moratorium by executive action. It is unclear if Trump has the authority to do so.

Pelosi, Meadows, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to meet again at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, NBC News reported. 

“If we don’t have a deal, we’ve got to have a sell-off,” TheStreet.com's Jim Cramer said on CNBC. "“It’s not like we can just avoid a deal and say it doesn’t matter. And that’s what I’m getting concerned about.” 

Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday before he was scheduled to greet President Donald Trump upon his arrival in Cleveland, according to a statement from his office.

DeWine, a Republican, has no symptoms of the virus, his office said, but plans to quarantine at his home for the next two weeks.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.  (BMY) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings, and boosted its full-year profit outlook, as stronger sales of its Eliquis blood clotting treatment offset the continue slump in revenues from Opdivo. The shares finished up 2.8% at $61.33.

Uber Technologies  (UBER) - Get Report shares were rising as the ride-sharing giant preps its earnings report for after the closing bell today. The shares closed Thursday trading 4.6% higher at $34.71.

Shares of Rocket Cos, parent of Quicken Loans, rose after their initial public offering, a smaller-than-expected issuance reflecting investors’ hesitance amid cloudy economic forecasts. The Detroit company late Wednesday priced 100 million shares at $18 each. The shares, trading under the symbol RKT, finished up 20% higher at $21.51.