Tuesday, 27 Oct 2020

Wall Street falls after surprise rise in jobless claims, stimulus impasse

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks dropped on Thursday as an unexpected rise in weekly jobless claims compounded fears of a stalling economic recovery, against the backdrop of dimming hopes for more fiscal aid before the election.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 898,000 for the week ended Oct. 10, compared to 845,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 825,000 applications in the latest week.

A separate report showed manufacturing activity in New York State fell more than expected in October.

“The initial round of stimulus is running low and we are seeing the effects of that right now. You are seeing furloughs turn into full unemployment numbers,” said Brian Walsh Jr., senior financial adviser at Walsh & Nicholson Financial Group.

A day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a deal on more federal aid was unlikely before the Nov. 3 presidential election, President Donald Trump said there was still a chance.

Wall Street’s indexes fell for the third straight day, with the S&P 500 now nearly 4% below its intraday record high hit on Sept. 2, after rising to within 1% of that level earlier this week.

With less than 20 days to Election Day, Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will hold dueling prime-time town halls on Thursday instead of their second presidential debate, which was canceled after Trump declined to take part in a virtual matchup.

Focus is also on the quarterly earnings scorecard for corporate America, with expectations for third-quarter earnings improving to an 18.8% drop from a 25.0% tumble forecast on July 1, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Morgan Stanley edged 0.6% higher after it beat third-quarter profit estimates, winding up mixed results from major U.S. lenders. The earnings reports saw those focused on trading clocking big gains while retail banks took a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

All major S&P sectors were lower, with energy stocks sliding 1.1% as oil prices tumbled more than 2% on worries about demand recovery. [O/R] At 10:51 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 243.51 points, or 0.85%, at 28,270.49, the S&P 500 was down 34.60 points, or 0.99%, at 3,454.07. The Nasdaq Composite was down 166.55 points, or 1.42%, at 11,602.18.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc gained 3% as the drugstore chain forecast profit to grow in single digits in 2021 after posting a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit.

The S&P 1500 airlines index shed 2.3% as United Airlines reported a 78% drop in quarterly revenue.

Shares of drug developer Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc sank 19.2% after it discontinued its trial of a protein deficiency disorder treatment.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.00-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.82-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 22 new highs and 23 new lows.

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