Reuters / Brendan McDermid
- US equities climbed higher on Thursday as rallying tech stocks and encouraging economic data reversed some of Wednesday’s plunge.
- Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet led gains ahead of the companies’ third-quarter reports.
- US GDP grew at a record 33.1% annualized rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The reading exceeded the 32% estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
- Weekly jobless claims fell to 751,000 in the week that ended on Saturday, the Labor Department said. The reading exceeded the median economist estimate of 770,000.
- Watch major indexes update live here.
US stocks rallied on Thursday as investors cheered healthy economic data and bet on tech stocks to post strong quarterly earnings.
Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet led the market’s gains ahead of the companies’ latest quarterly reports. Facebook and Alphabet are expected to post a notable bounce-back in advertising revenue after other social-media giants revealed similar rebounds in their reports. The tech sector’s outperformance led the Nasdaq composite to outperform peer indexes.
Stocks initially opened mixed as revived COVID-19 fears muffled the impact of encouraging economic data. US gross domestic product grew at a record 33.1% annualized rate in the third quarter, according to Commerce Department data published Thursday. The reading came in just above the 32% economist estimate and is roughly double the next-biggest GDP jump on record.
Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET market close on Thursday:
- S&P 500: 3,310.12, up 1.2%
- Dow Jones industrial average: 26,659.17, up 0.5% (139 points)
- Nasdaq composite: 11,185.59, up 1.6%
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While the jump in GDP might seem to offset the second quarter’s 31.4% contraction, it doesn’t bring output back to pre-pandemic levels. Third-quarter growth would’ve needed to hit roughly 46% to balance out the virus-induced slump.
“If the provisional figure is correct, the US economy has now recovered to around 10% below its level in the first quarter, before the onset of the pandemic in the US,” Cailin Birch, a global economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said in an emailed statement.
Weekly jobless claims also exceeded economists’ forecasts. Filings for unemployment benefits fell to an unadjusted 751,000 for the week that ended on Saturday, the Labor Department said. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected claims to slide to 770,000.
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Continuing claims, which track the aggregate total of Americans receiving unemployment benefits, fell to 7.8 million for the week that ended on October 17. That reading was roughly in line with economists’ expectations.
The Thursday claims report suggests the labor market’s recovery is moving forward after stalling earlier in the month. Still, “good news continues to be tempered” by the rising number of Americans who have exhausted regular benefits, Nancy Vanden Houten, the lead US economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note, adding that the total is “evidence of more lasting scarring in the labor market.”
The market’s moderate climb follows stocks’ worst day since June. The S&P 500 sank 3.5% on Wednesday as surging COVID-19 cases prompted Germany and France to reinstate lockdown measures. With cases in the US increasing, the rising odds of another economic shutdown cut into investor sentiments.
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Tech, communications, and energy stocks led the S&P 500’s rally. Health care and utilities names lagged. Stocks’ climb accelerated in the afternoon after President Donald Trump said he aims to pass a “very big” stimulus package should he win reelection.
Twitter, Activision Blizzard, and Starbucks are also among the companies reporting quarterly earnings after the bell.
Netflix surged in the final hour of trading after the streaming giant raised prices for its plans in the US. The monthly price of its most popular plan jumped by $1 to $14 per month, while the monthly price of its premium plan jumped to $18 from $16. The price of its basic plan will remain $9 per month and changes will go into effect today, according to The Verge.
Pinterest skyrocketed after the company trounced earnings expectations. Monthly active users soared amid continued stay-at-home activity.
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Bitcoin rallied alongside equities, climbing as high as $13,647.43 as the token’s uptrend resumed. The cryptocurrency still sits below the $13,800 level it breached in late Tuesday trading.
Spot gold fell as much as 0.9%, to $1,860.04 per ounce, its lowest level in a month. The US dollar gained against a basket of other currencies, and Treasury yields surged.
Oil sank to a five-month low before paring losses. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 6.6%, to $34.92 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 6.3%, to $36.64 per barrel, at intraday lows.
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