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Dow Ends Higher as Pace of Jobless Claims Slows, Nasdaq Positive for 2020

Stocks finish higher as the pace of U.S. jobless claims slows and oil prices rise.

Stocks finished higher Thursday as sentiment received a boost from news that U.S. and Chinese negotiators could meet as soon as next week to discuss their trade agreement and U.S. jobless claims trended lower. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 211 points, or 0.9%, to 23,875, the S&P 500 gained 1.15% and the Nasdaq rose 1.41%.

Boeing  (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report, Walt Disney  (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report, and American Express  (AXP) - Get American Express Company Report led the Dow's advance.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq turned positive for the year. pPayPal  (PYPL) - Get PayPal Holdings Inc Report and T-Mobile  (TMUS) - Get T-Mobile US, Inc. Report were leaders on the index in the wake of well-received earnings reports.

The stock market gains came Thursday even after data showing another 3.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the past week and as some states slowly begin to reopen following the onslaught of the coronavirus outbreak.

While 33.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits over the past seven weeks, the numbers for the week ended May 2 were the lowest since the pandemic was declared by health authorities.

"With another 3.17 million Americans filing for unemployment claims in the most recent week, the number of people filing is now 33.5 million in two months. That implies about 22% to 24% without jobs, though the official unemployment figure released (Friday) will likely be about 17%, given so many Americans are not yet looking for work, and are sheltering-in-place or furloughed," Frick said.

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The jobless claims data was released a day before the official U.S. payrolls report, which is forecast on Friday to show a 21 million drop in payrolls.

Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James said Zoom Video Communications  (ZM) - Get Zoom Video Communications (ZM) Report  agreed to implement a data security program to protect all users that will be designed and run by the company’s head of security. Zoom will also conduct risk assessment and software code reviews.

Asian shares finished Thursday's session mixed after President Trump threatened to terminate a phase one trade agreement between the U.S. and China if Beijing didn't adhere to its terms.

But there was news that top negotiators from the U.S. and China would be speaking as soon as next week about implementing the trade agreement.

Bristol-Myers Squibb  (BMY) - Get Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Report posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings and confirmed its 2020 profit guidance. The drugmaker also predicted a near-term peak in coronavirus disruption.

ViacomCBS  (VIACA) - Get ViacomCBS Inc. Class A Report, the entertainment and media giant, beat Wall Street's first-quarter earnings expectations.

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