Stocks rocket to notch third daily gain in a row on expectations of strong stimulus

U.S. stocks roared higher Thursday, closing up for the third day in a row despite a report from the Labor Department that showed unemployment claims soared to a record 3.28 million last week, as the coronavirus pandemic shut down businesses across the nation.

Investors took some comfort from the overnight passage of a historic $2 trillion economic stimulus bill by the Senate, putting it one step closer to being signed into law to mitigate the economic fallout from the outbreak.

How did benchmarks perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +6.37% closed 1,351.62 points, or 6.38%, higher, at 22,552.17, while the S&P 500 SPX, +6.24% gained 154.51 points, 6.24%, to touch 2,630.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +5.59% was 413.24 points or 5.6%, higher, closing at 7,797.54.

The move for the Dow on Thursday marked its first three days of successive gains since Feb. 6, while for the S&P 500 it was the first such streak since Feb. 12. Over the past three days, the Dow has gained 21.3%, its best three-day stretch since 1931, while the S&P 500 has gained 17.5%, the best three-day streak since 1933, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

For the year to date, the Dow is down about 21%, the S&P 500 is about 18.7% lower, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq is off 13.1%.

What drove the market?

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged to a record 3.28 million last week as businesses shuttered and laid off workers as part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but investors had largely anticipated the data.

Initial jobless claims in the week ended March

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