Stocks Shake Off Increase in Jobless Claims to End Higher

Shares rise as investors look to tech shares. Sen. Chuck Schumer says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees to resume stimulus talks with Democrats.
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Stocks shook off an increase in jobless claims to end higher Thursday as investors looked to tech shares amid worries over coronavirus lockdowns and hints that Congress may resume stimulus talks.

U.S. jobless claims rose for the first time in five weeks.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said at a Thursday news conference that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) agreed to resume talks with Democrats about a financial-stimulus bill as coronavirus cases ramp up nationwide.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 44.81, or 0.15%, at 29,483, the S&P 500 rose 0.39%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.87%. 

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report shares rose $12.63, or 2.6%, to end at $499.27. Salesforce  (CRM) - Get Report and Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report helped lead the Dow higher.

Stocks ended lower Wednesday as the gains that came from Pfizer's  (PFE) - Get Report more promising vaccine data were erased after New York City moved to close public schools again as virus transmission in the nation's largest school system spiked.

Deaths in the U.S. from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have surpassed 250,000, the most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Experts have predicted the country could soon be reporting 2,000 deaths a day or more, matching or exceeding the spring peak, and that 100,000 to 200,000 more Americans could die in the coming months, The New York Times said in a report.

About 80,000 patients are hospitalized with Covid-19 in the U.S., Bloomberg reported.

That's why word from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get Report that their coronavirus vaccine candidate reached a 95% efficacy rate was welcomed by Wall Street. The companies said they would apply for emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in the coming days.

But while the world waits for a vaccine to be approved - and then distributed - concerns remain about the fallout growing restrictions on businesses will have on the U.S. and global economies.

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose for the first time in five weeks as Covid-19 infections continued to soar to record levels across the country.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 742,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits in the week ended Nov. 14, up from a revised 711,000 claims the week earlier. Economists polled by FactSet had been expecting claims of 700,000.

Despite Schumer's statement, the Senate's decision to recess for the Thanksgiving break suggests any progress on a much-needed stimulus bill will be slow.

"This isn’t the trajectory we want to see, and it underscores the fact that lockdowns kicking in across the country have a very real and negative effect on the labor market," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade. 

"The first jump in jobless claims in weeks puts into perspective where we stand on the stimulus front - which is pretty much nowhere as of now. 

"And as Covid cases continue to surge, policymakers could be keeping a close eye on how the jobs picture shakes out in the weeks ahead. Without a boost from the government, economic recovery and risk assets like equities certainly come under pressure," he added.