Dow Inches Higher Following Surprise Drop in Jobless Claims

Gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average were limited on Thursday, as investors continued to monitor stimulus negotiations.

Dow, US Stock Market

U.S. equity markets are cautiously higher on Thursday, though stimulus overhang continues to dominate investors' attention. | Image: Bryan R. Smith / AFP

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq traded higher Thursday.
  • Weekly jobless claims fell by 55,000 for the week ended Oct. 17, defying expectations of a sharp rise.
  • Investors are clinging to hopes of a pre-election stimulus deal being reached in the coming days.

The Dow and broader U.S. stock market advanced modestly on Thursday after a surprise drop in weekly jobless claims raised optimism about the economic recovery.

Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq Rise

All of Wall Street’s major indexes traded slightly higher Thursday, mirroring a tepid pre-market for U.S. stock futures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by as much as 84 points before giving back most of its gains.

Dow Jones, DJIA
The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw modest gains on Thursday. | Chart: Yahoo Finance

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks advanced 0.2%, led by healthcare and communication services companies. Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.3%.

Equity markets closed lower Wednesday as negotiations over a coronavirus stimulus bill continued. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has acknowledged that progress is being made, though Senate Republicans’ stiff opposition could block a multi-trillion-dollar deal from passing.

Jobless Claims Fall

Signs of progress in the labor market have some investors feeling optimistic about the U.S.economy’s healthy. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that jobless claims fell 55,000 to a seasonally adjusted 787,000 in the week ended Oct. 17. Analysts in a median forecast were calling for claims to rise last week. Watch the video below for more:

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the weekly figures reflect California’s revisions that lowered overall claims in October.

Looking more broadly at the labor market, the number of Americans collecting regular benefits fell by 1 million to roughly 8.4 million for the week ended Oct. 10.

The jobs market has been in recovery mode since the early spring when Covid-19 triggered nation-wide lockdown orders that prevented people from going to work. It remains to be seen whether a second wave of infections will reverse some of those gains in the coming weeks.

More than 8.3 million Americans have been infected with Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Last modified: October 22, 2020 1:57 PM
Financial Editor of, Sam Bourgi has spent the past decade focused on economics, markets, and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE, Yahoo Finance, and Forbes. Sam is based in Ontario, Canada and can be contacted at [email protected] or at LinkedIn.
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