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U.S. Stocks Give Back Ground After Seeing Early Strength

wallstreet july16 09sep21 lt

After moving mostly higher earlier in the session, stocks have given back ground over the course of the trading day on Thursday. The major averages have all pulled back off their highs of the session.

Currently, the major averages are posting modest gains. The Dow is up 29.58 points or 0.1 percent at 35,060.65, the Nasdaq is up 31.95 points or 0.2 percent at 15,318.58 and the S&P 500 is up 2.60 points or 0.1 percent at 4,516.67.

The early strength on Wall Street came after the Labor Department released a report showing a bigger than expected decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 4th.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 310,000, a decrease of 35,000 from the previous week's revised level of 345,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 335,000 from the 340,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims once again dropped to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

"While the August jobs report showed employers may have hit the pause button on hiring amid renewed concerns about the pandemic, the claims data suggest a reluctance to lay off workers amid a record number of job openings," said Nancy Vanden Houten, Lead Economist at Capital Economics.

Last Friday, the Labor Department released a separate report showing U.S. job growth fell well short of economic estimates in the month of August.

Traders were also reacting to the European Central Bank's latest monetary policy decision, with the bank announcing it would slow the pace of asset purchases under its pandemic emergency purchase program.

Buying interest has waned over the course of the session, however, with traders expressing continued concerns about the impact of the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Uncertainty about the outlook for monetary policy has also weighed on the markets ahead of the next Federal Reserve meeting later this month.

Sector News

Despite the pullback by the broader markets, substantial strength remains visible among airline stocks, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 3 percent.

The rally by airline stocks comes even though several major carriers lowered their forecasts due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

Banking stocks also continue to turn in a strong performance in mid-day trading, resulting in a 1.3 percent advance by the KBW Bank Index.

On the other hand, pharmaceutical stocks have come under pressure over the course of the session, dragging the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical Index down by 1.4 percent to its lowest intraday level in over a month.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged by 2.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance following the ECB announcement. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved modestly higher over the course of the session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.3 basis points at 1.321 percent.

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