US stocks gain as stimulus optimism offsets the biggest jobless-claims surge since March

  • US stocks gained on Thursday as a surge in weekly jobless claims was offset by optimism around President-elect Joe Biden's stimulus plan.
  • Weekly jobless claims of 965,000 represented the biggest increase since March and the highest level since August.
  • Democrats are weighing a potential multi-trillion-dollar stimulus bill that would combine infrastructure spending and COVID-19 relief legislation into a single bill.
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US stocks gained on Thursday as a surge in weekly jobless claims was offset by hopes of a massive stimulus bill from President-elect Joe Biden.

Jobless claims surged to 965,000 for the week ended on Saturday, representing the biggest surge since March and the highest level since August. Economists had been expecting 800,000 jobless claims for the week. 

But traders appear more focused on the multi-trillion-dollar stimulus bill being floated by President-elect Joe Biden.

Here's where US indexes stood after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Thursday:

  • S&P 500: 3,817.79, up 0.2%
  • Dow Jones industrial average: 31,195.81, up 0.4% (135 points)
  • Nasdaq composite: 13,173.57, up 0.4%

Read more: Cathie Wood's ARK Invest runs 5 active ETFs that more than doubled in 2020. She and her analysts share their 2021 outlooks on the economy, bitcoin, and Tesla.

Two Democratic aides familiar with the discussions told Insider that Senate Democrats are weighing whether to combine an infrastructure bill and coronavirus relief legislation into a single, multi-trillion-dollar bill that wouldn't require Republican votes to pass. The discussions reflect the desire among Democrats to swiftly capitalize on their new majority in both the House and Senate following the Georgia run-off elections. 

Bitcoin rebounded on Thursday and reclaimed the $39,000 level following a more than 20% sell-off from its record high of more than $40,000. The move came after ECB President Christine Lagarde called for bitcoin to be regulated at a global level.

Read more: 'Vastly technically disconnected': A market strategist breaks down the 3 indicators that show Tesla is overpriced — and says it's due for a 17% correction in the next 6 weeks

Virgin Galactic jumped 16% after ARK Invest disclosed plans to launch its own ETF focused on the space exploration industry.

Plug Power fell 5% after JPMorgan initiated the hydrogen fuel-cell manufacturer at Neutral and set a $60 price target, representing downside potential of 14% from Wednesday's close. 

Oil prices fell. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped as much as 1.3%, to $52.24 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, fell 1.5%, to $55.24 per barrel, at intraday lows.

Gold rose as much as 0.4%, to $1,852.24 per ounce.

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