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Dow Finishes 1.2% Lower on Dismal Unemployment Data

Stocks ended down after another 3.8 million Americans filed for jobless claims in the most recent week.

Stocks finished lower Thursday after grim data on unemployment revealed the continuing effect the coronavirus pandemic was having on the jobs market and as investors weighed a bevy of corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 288 points, or 1.17%, to 24,345, the S&P 500 declined 0.92% and the Nasdaq slipped 0.28%.

American Express  (AXP) - Get American Express Company Report, Walgreens Boots Alliance  (WBA) - Get Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Report and Travelers  (TRV) - Get The Travelers Companies Inc. Report led the Dow's decline.

Another 3.8 million Americans filed jobless claims up to last Saturday as the U.S. economy remained largely shuttered amid the pandemic, which has forced some 30 million Americans to file for unemployment benefits since mid-March.

With about one in five of the U.S. working population now on unemployment benefits, analysts are all but certain that the U.S. jobs report for April will reveal a record-breaking double-digit gain in unemployment.

"The latest data on unemployment insurance claims continues to be dreadful. Last week, 3.5 million people, on a seasonally unadjusted basis, filed for UI benefits," said Nick Bunker, Indeed Hiring Lab's director of economic research. 

"This is a decline from the week before, but still more than five times the previous all-time high. A number in the low millions may be a relief compared to earlier this month, but it’s objectively a horrifying statistic. Unfortunately, these figures understate how many people are currently jobless."

Clothing apparel company J. Crew is preparing for a bankruptcy filing that could come as soon as this weekend, media reports say. The chain is working to secure $400 million in financing to fund operations in bankruptcy, CNBC said, citing people familiar with the matter. 

J. Crew is owned by the private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green and Partners.

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Stocks on Wednesday finished sharply higher after investors embraced news on the effectiveness of a Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences Inc. Report drug to combat the coronavirus, looked past weak U.S. economic growth and were heartened by a Federal Reserve that said it would "use its tools" to support the economy.

The Fed on Thursday said it would expand the scope of its Main Street Lending Program.

The Nasdaq fell Thursday despite strong earnings reports from tech giants such as Facebook  (FB) - Get Netflix Inc. Report and Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Netflix Inc. Report.

Microsoft's fiscal third-quarter earnings topped analysts' forecasts as the tech giant's cloud-computing operations benefited from the lockdown, which has kept many workers at home.

Facebook posted better-than-expected first-quarter revenue and the stock was rising after the company said it was seeing "signs of stability" in advertising revenue.  (AMZN) - Get Inc. Report and Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report will release their quarterly earnings reports after the closing bell Thursday.

McDonald's  (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report on Thursday posted weaker-than-expected first-quarter earnings amid what the world's biggest restaurant group called a "dramatic change" in consumer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Kraft Heinz  (KHC) - Get The Kraft Heinz Company Report, the food and beverage company, topped earnings and sales expectations as demand for its consumer foods rose during the outbreak.

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