By DAMIAN J. TROISE and ALEX VEIGA
Stocks were moderately higher in afternoon trading Thursday, putting the market on pace to break a three-day losing streak. Investors were encouraged by the latest jobs data that showed fewer Americans filing for unemployment benefits, another sign that the economic recovery is underway.
The S&P 500 index was up 1.1% as of 2:27 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 214 points, or 0.6%, to 34,108 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq was up 1.6%.
Technology and communications stocks led the broad gains. Apple rose 2.1% and Google’s parent, Alphabet, rose 1.4%. Nearly every sector in the S&P 500 made gains, though slumping oil prices dragged down energy stocks.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 444,000, a new pandemic low and a sign that the job market keeps strengthening as consumers spend freely again, viral infections drop and business restrictions ease.
Part of that decline may be fueled by Republican governors who have opted not to allow their residents to claim the $300-a-week supplemental benefit that came with the latest economic relief package. The move could be pushing more people back into the labor market.
Treasury yields mostly fell, despite the positive economic data. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.63% from 1.67% late Wednesday.
Investors continue to be focused on the potential for inflation down the road. Prices for everything from gasoline to lumber have been rising sharply this year as the economy reheats after the pandemic, and investors have been worried that high inflation may cause the Federal Reserve to pull back on any stimulus efforts the central bank is making.
“There’ a bit of churning going on in the markets,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments. “Here we are near all-time highs on the S&P 500, and there’s so much uncertainty about what is actually happening with inflation, how long it’s going to last and how the Fed will react.”
Oatly, the largest maker of oat milk in the world, jumped 21.2% on its first day of trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. The company raised $1.5 billion as part of its initial public offering.
Digital currencies fell sharply Wednesday after China’s banking association issued a warning over the risks associated with digital currencies. On Thursday the price of Bitcoin regained some ground, adding 4.4% to roughly $39,837, according to the online brokerage Coinbase.
In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, Robert Charmak, left, talks with a fellow trader on the floor, Thursday, May 20, 2021. Stocks were moderately higher on Thursday morning trading, putting the market on pace to break a three-day losing streak. Investors were encouraged by the latest jobs data that showed fewer Americans filing for unemployment benefits, another sign that the economic recovery is underway. (Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP)