US stocks held steady Thursday as investors waited for Friday’s much-anticipated job report to gauge the pace of the labor market recovery.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 40 points after hitting a record high in the previous session. The S&P 500 has not changed much. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.5%.
The muted action came about despite a better than expected reading of unemployment claims. Initial unemployment insurance claims for the week ending May 1 were 498,000, a new low in the pandemic and better than a Dow Jones estimate of 527,000.
The data came the day before the job report was published on Friday in April. Economists polled by Dow Jones estimate that a total of 978,000 people were hired last month and that the unemployment rate will fall from 6% to 5.8%.
“Today’s reading is further evidence that we are one step closer to full economic recovery, sooner than some expected,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade Financial. “When we see serious momentum emerging on the labor front, all eyes will be on how the Fed may implement this.”
PayPal shares rose 1.5% after the company posted better-than-expected earnings and sales rose 31% in the most recent quarter.
Etsy rose 11% after warning that sales will slow down as the pandemic subsides.
The Nasdaq Composite posted its fourth consecutive negative session on Wednesday for its longest daily losing streak since October. The tech-heavy index and the S&P 500 are each lower for the week. The Dow is on track to break a two-week losing streak.
“The tech sector’s earnings momentum versus the broader market peaked in late May 2020,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at Truist. “Given that we expect the economy to grow well above trend this year and next, value will benefit. If you look at value indices, they are dominated by financials and tend to be stronger in economics sensitive sectors engaged, which are more strongly committed to an economic recovery. “
The Russell 1000 Value Index is up 16% this year while the Russell 1000 Growth Index is up 5%.
However, he added that the concerns remain in the market. For one thing, the federal government’s stimulus packages have boosted growth, and at some point the economy will have to return to organic growth.
Busiest week of earnings is now in the rearview mirror, but some companies have yet to deploy their quarterly updates.
Dropbox, Expedia, Roku, Beyond Meat, Shake Shack and Square will report back after market closes.
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