S&P 500, Dow fall as jobless claims rise; megacaps boost Nasdaq

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow indexes fell on Thursday after data showed weekly jobless claims hit a two-month high, while a rise in megacap growth stocks offered some support to the technology-heavy Nasdaq.

FILE PHOTO: A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., July 19, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The Labor Department’s report showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased by 51,000 to a seasonally adjusted 419,000 in the week ended July 17.

Still, the number likely does not suggest a material shift in labor market conditions, with another month of strong job growth expected in July.

“One data point isn’t a trend, and a one-off can probably be chalked up to Delta variant concerns. If jobs data doesn’t inflect soon, the markets and the Fed will be put on notice,” said Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth.

Investors have been closely following the health of the jobs market on which the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy hinges, especially after a series of higher inflation reading recently sparked fears about a sooner-than expected paring of policy support as the economy reopens.

A shift in attention to corporate earnings and the so-called value stocks have helped Wall Street recoup most of its declines from earlier in the week that were triggered by concerns about the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“The market is realizing that it’s very unlikely that this variant is going to have a similar outcome to the original pandemic,” said Tom Mantione, managing director at UBS Private Wealth Management in Stamford, CT.

Economically sensitive S&P 500 sectors declined in early trading, with energy dropping 1.2% after rising in the last two sessions. The S&P 500 technology sector was the biggest gainer among the 11 major sector indexes.

Second-quarter earnings are expected to grow 75% for S&P 500 companies, according to Refinitiv IBES estimates. So far, 88% of the 73 companies in the benchmark index that reported results for the quarter beat consensus expectations.

Drugmaker Biogen Inc gained 0.8% on raising its full-year revenue expectations.

Southwest Airlines Co fell 3.3% after it posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, pushing the S&P 1500 Airlines index down 2.1%.

American Airlines Group Inc reported a quarterly profit, but its shares fell 1.9%

At 10:00 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 62.20 points, or 0.18%, at 34,735.80 and the S&P 500 was down 1.53 points, or 0.04%, at 4,357.16,

The Nasdaq Composite was up 24.87 points, or 0.17%, at 14,656.83, boosted by Apple Inc, Amazon.com, Facebook Inc, Google-owner Alphabet Inc and Microsoft Corp.

Intel Corp edged higher ahead of its quarterly results after markets close on Thursday.

Texas Instruments Inc fell 4.7% after a downbeat current-quarter revenue forecast amid concerns about the chipmaker’s ability to meet searing demand in the face of a global shortage.

CXS Corp gained 3.9% as brokerages raised their price targets on the U.S. railroad operator’s shares after it posted upbeat second-quarter revenue.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.10-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.21-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 29 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 42 new highs and 12 new lows.

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