Wall St. rallies for third day as job losses stir talk of more stimulus

(Reuters) – Wall Street surged on Thursday as record weekly jobless claims came in below investors’ worst fears, while also making a strong case for more aggressive stimulus to aid businesses and families wrecked by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to 3.28 million last week as state-wide lockdowns brought the economy to a halt and unleashed a wave of layoffs.

The median of analysts polled by Reuters was 1 million claims, but the top end of the forecast was as high as 4 million.

“This is the first alarming data print, but the whisper number was probably higher than that so it does seem like there’s a little bit of relief in the market,” said Shawn Snyder, head of investment strategy at Citi Personal Wealth Management in New York.

Adding to sentiment, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank stood ready to act “aggressively” to shore up credit in the market on top of the unprecedented policy easing announced on Monday.

“He said the Fed is not going to run out of ammunition and that the committee still has policy room for more action,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group in Cyprus.

“By saying that he raises the question – will they go for negative interest rates?”

Expectations are high for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a $2 trillion stimulus bill to support distressed industries, including airlines, after the Senate cleared the proposal.

The S&P 500 has now clawed back about $3 trillion in market value since its close on Monday and is on pace for its third straight

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