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Stocks End Higher After Earnings and Surprise Jump in Jobless Claims

Stocks finish higher Thursday as investors weigh optimism about earnings and the economic recovery with a surprising jump in U.S. unemployment claims.

Stocks finished higher Thursday as investors weighed optimism about earnings and the economic recovery against a surprising jump in U.S. unemployment claims.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 25 points, or 0.07%, to 34,823, the S&P 500 gained 0.2% and the Nasdaq ended up 0.37%.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury fell Thursday to 1.26%. Yields dropped below 1.2% earlier this week as traders pared bets on any near-term moves on interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

The Focus Is on Stock-Picking as Macro Concerns Are Set Aside

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose last week to 419,000, up 51,000 from the week earlier and higher than economists' forecasts.

"Don’t panic" about the jobless claims data, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. 

He said the numbers "continue to suffer from seasonal adjustment difficulties caused by shifts in the timing and extent of the automakers’ annual retooling shutdowns from year to year."

Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, said the "unexpected bump" in jobless claims "could be noise in the system, but it’s also not hard to see how the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant could add thousands of layoffs to numbers that already are double what they were pre-COVID."

Stocks finished higher on Wednesday as investors were encouraged by solid earnings reports. About 86% of the companies in the S&P 500 that already have reported earnings have topped analysts' expectations, according to Bloomberg.

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Rallies on Wall Street both Tuesday and Wednesday recouped the losses from Monday's steep selloff.

AT&T  (T) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings and boosted its full-year revenue guidance as it continues to build its HBO Max subscriber base while reducing churn rates in its wireless division.

Railroad company Union Pacific  (UNP) - Get Report rose after posting record second-quarter earnings

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Earnings reports are expected after the closing bell Thursday from Intel  (INTC) - Get Report, Snap  (SNAP) - Get Report and Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Report.

Bitcoin rose to above $32,000, led higher by positive comments about the world's largest cryptocurrency from Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Cathie Wood.

Can Elon Musk, Cathie Wood and Jack Dorsey Save Bitcoin?

Musk, CEO of Tesla TSLA, said the electric vehicle company might soon again accept Bitcoin for vehicle purchases.

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