The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed at record highs Thursday as fewer Americans applied for unemployment insurance last week than any other since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 131 points, or 0.37%, to 35,443, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.28% and the Nasdaq ended up 0.14%.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also reached intraday record highs.
Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report shares rose as traders bid-up the world's most valuable tech company following an agreement to allow app developers the freedom to accept payments outside of its ApplePay system, a move that could neutralize from of its antitrust risk.
The Labor Department said 340,000 people filed first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended August 28.
That's 14,000 fewer than the prior week and the lowest number since March 14, 2020 and below Wall Street's call for 345,000.
"With jobless claims hitting a pandemic low, there’s definitely some optimism as we look ahead to the full jobs picture tomorrow," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy E*Trade Financial. "But keep in mind there’s no shortage of headwinds when it comes to the labor market—with pockets of resurging COVID cases impacting reopenings and employees heading back to work."
Loewengart said that demand for workers remains strong, so it remains it to be seen how much of an effect the Delta variant will really have on the labor market. And with stimulus drying up, he added, "there’s some reasoning behind the drop off in claims."
"When it comes to the market, we could experience a bit of a tug and a pull—on one hand a solid jobs report is a positive indication of economic recovery, and on the other it backs up the Fed’s case to begin tapering," he said.
Bond markets remained cautious, with benchmark 10-year note yields easing to 1.287%, suggesting some investors are still tracking the impact of Delta-variant infections on global and domestic growth, which could in turn slow the Federal Reserve's plans to begin tapering the pace of its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases.
Pfizer (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report finished higher after the drugmaker said it would being a phase 3 trial of its investigational vaccine designed to prevent respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in adults aged 60 years and over.
Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report slipped amid reports that the global shortage in semiconductors forced four days of closures at the carmaker's Shanghai-based factory, potentially delaying the production of Model Y SUVs.
Baxter International (BAX) - Get Baxter International Inc. Report shares jumped after agreeing to buy medical technology company Hill-Rom (HRC) - Get Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. Report for around $10.5 billion.
Oil prices climbed thanks in part to the U.S. dollar trading at a three-week low against a basket of its global peers, as investors reacted to both OPEC's plans to boost production over the coming months and data from the Energy Department showing a much bigger-than-expected 7.2 million barrel decline in domestic crude stocks over the week ending July 29.
WTI crude futures for October delivery were $1.14 higher at $69.73 per barrel while Brent crude futures for November jumped $1.19 to $72.78 per barrel.