Stocks fight for gains as job market shows improvement

Tech stocks have more room to run: Expert

EShares CEO Joel Shulman discusses his outlook for tech stocks.

U.S. stocks struggled for gains Thursday morning as the labor market showed small improvements and lawmakers attempted to iron out a deal for COVID-19 relief.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average swung between small increases and decreases, while the S&P 500 dipped 0.08 percent and the Nasdaq was flat. The tech-heavy index secured its 31st record-high close of the year on Wednesday.

Continuing jobless claims for the week ended July 25 fell to 16.1 million from the prior week’s revised reading of 16.95 million. Initial claims were 1.186 million for the week ended Aug. 1, the lowest since the pandemic began. The July jobs report will be released on Friday morning.


Meanwhile, lawmakers on Capitol Hill continued negotiations for a relief bill ahead of Friday’s planned recess. The package could include an extension of the additional $600-per-week unemployment benefit, a further freeze on evictions and aid for cities and states whose economies were damaged by the pandemic.

Looking at stocks, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. lost $432 million during the three months through June with occupancy averaging 22 percent as stay-at-home orders eliminated non-essential travel.

Restaurant Brands International, Inc. reported a 25 percent quarterly sales drop as weakness at Burger King and Tim Hortons was partially offset by strength at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

Papa John’s International Inc. registered record sales as customers scarfed down pizza while sheltering at home. The pizza chain said preliminary comparable sales for July were up 30 percent in North America and 14 percent internationally.

Streaming platform Roku Inc. added 3.2 million accounts, the most outside of a holiday quarter, helping drive a 42 percent surge in revenue. However, the company warned advertising spending would remain uncertain for the rest of the year.

Elsewhere, Quicken Loans-parent Rocket Companies Inc. priced its initial public offering at $18 per share, below the $20 to $22 that was expected. The company sold 100 million shares, which was below the 150 million that it was seeking.

Looking at commodities, gold surged $22 to $2,071.30 an ounce while West Texas Intermediate crude oil slipped 20 cents to $41.99 per barrel.

U.S. Treasurys rallied, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down by 2.5 basis points to 0.518 percent.


In Europe, Britain’s FTSE paced the decline, down 1.89 percent after the Bank of England warned the economic recovery would take longer than expected. Meanwhile, France’s CAC and Germany’s DAX were weaker by 1.41 percent and 1.04 percent, respectively.

Asian markets finished mixed with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng sliding 0.69 percent and Japan’s Nikkei slipping 0.43 percent while China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.26 percent.

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