NEW YORK - U.S. equity markets surged on Thursday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average exiting bear market territory as optimism grows that the economy will regain its footing despite the coronavirus crisis.
The Dow gained 1,351 points or over 6.4 percent. The S&P 500 also rose 6.3 percent and the Nasdaq Composite over 5.6 percent. A new bull market is set to begin on Thursday.
Investors digested record jobless claims and waited for the House to vote on a $2 trillion relief package which should get money into the hands of out of work Americans and crippled small businesses.
This hope outweighed first-time unemployment filings which surged to a record 3.28 million last week, according to the Labor Department, as the COVID-19 pandemic prompted businesses to temporarily close their doors and lay off employees. The previous record was 695,000, set in 1982.
The all-time high in claims came hours after the Senate voted 96-0, passing the $2 trillion relief package that would extend aid to individuals, small businesses and corporations hit hardest by the pandemic. The House of Representatives is scheduled to debate the bill on Friday.
Looking at stocks, hard-hit travel-related names are seeking direction as the status of the $2 trillion relief package remains in limbo.
Boeing shares continued to gain, adding to their 90 percent climb this week.
Oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron rose despite West Texas Intermediate crude oil plunging 7.7 percent to $22.60 a barrel. U.S. shale names Continental Resources and Pioneer Natural Resources also fell.
Banks gained even as buying across the Treasury complex flattened the yield curve. The yield on the 10-year note was down 5.8 basis points at 0.798 percent while the yield on the 3-month bill, which fell below zero on Wednesday, was little changed at -0.048 percent.
Automaker Ford said it’s aiming to restart production at some North American plants as early as April 6. The company’s credit rating was cut to junk at S&P.
On the earnings front, Micron Technology’s results topped expectations and the firm gave a stronger-than-expected forecast due to an anticipated boost from more people working from home.
Signet Jewelers reported better-than-expected quarterly results, but suspended its dividend and did not provide financial guidance due to uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.
In Europe, Britain's FTSE paced gains, up 0.6 percent, while France’s CAC and Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent and 0.13 percent, respectively.
Asian markets closed lower across the board, with Japan’s Nikkei falling 4.5 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sliding 0.7 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite down 0.6 percent.
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