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U.S. Stocks Extend Upward Trend, S&P 500 Reaches New Record High

wallstreet sept18 21oct21 lt

Stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday, extending the upward trend seen over the past several sessions. The S&P 500 moved higher for the seventh straight session, reaching a new record closing high.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 94.02 points or 0.6 percent to 15,215.70 and the S&P 500 rose 13.59 points or 0.3 percent to 4,549.78, while the Dow climbed well off its worst levels but still edged down 6.26 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 35,603.08.

The continued strength on Wall Street came after a report from the Labor Department showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly edged lower in the week ended October 16th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims slipped to 290,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week's revised level of 296,000.

The modest decrease surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to inch up to 300,000 from the 293,000 originally reported for the previous week.

With the unexpected dip, jobless claims once again fell to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

The National Association of Realtors also released a report showing existing home sales rebounded by much more than expected in the month of September.

NAR said existing home sales spiked by 7.0 percent to an annual rate of 6.29 million in September after slumping by 2.0 percent to a rate of 5.88 million in August. Economists had expected existing home sales to jump by 3.6 percent to a rate of 6.09 million.

Existing home sales reached their highest annual rate since January but were still down by 2.3 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

Upbeat earnings news also contributed to the continued advance, with shares of Tesla (TSLA) moving notably higher after the electric car maker reported better than expected third quarter results.

Computer and printer make HP Inc. (HPQ) also posted a strong gain after providing upbeat fiscal 2022 guidance and raising its dividend.

Meanwhile, a steep drop by shares of IBM Corp. (IBM) weighed on the Dow, with the tech giant plunging by 9.6 percent after reporting weaker than expected third quarter revenues.

Sector News

Steel stocks showed a substantial move to the downside on the day, resulting in a 2.7 percent nosedive by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.

Significant weakness was also visible among energy stocks, which moved sharply lower along with the price of crude oil. Crude for December delivery slumped $0.92 to $82.50 a barrel.

Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index plunged by 2.5 percent, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index tumbled by 2 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index slid by 1.7 percent.

On the other hand, computer hardware stocks moved notably higher over the course of the session, driving the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index up by 1.3 percent.

Considerable strength also emerged among retail stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain posted by the Dow Jones U.S. Retail Index.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index plunged by 1.9 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index inched up by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both fell by 0.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries came under pressure after ending the previous session nearly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 4 basis points to 1.676 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Friday may be impacted by reaction to the latest earnings news, with Intel (INTC), Mattel (MAT), Snap (SNAP) and Whirlpool (WHR) among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.

American Express (AXP) and Honeywell (HON) are also among the companies due to report their quarterly results before the start of trading on Friday.

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