U.S. stocks finished mostly lower on Thursday as investors reacted to economic data.
The Dow and broader U.S. stock market struggled on Thursday after government data showed a surprise uptick in weekly jobless claims.
All of Wall Street’s major indices were lower by the close but had recovered sharply from their intraday lows. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) fell 18.42 points, or 0.1%, to 28,495.58.
The broad S&P 500 Index (SPY) of large-cap stocks fell 0.2% to close at 3,483.33. Losses were concentrated in five major sectors, with communication services and health care leading the declines. On the opposite side of the ledger, energy and financial shares rose on average.
Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index (QQQ) closed down 0.5% at 11,713.87.
A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX (VXX) rose again on Thursday. The so-called “investor fear index” peaked above 29 on a scale of 1-100 where 20 represents the historical average. The VIX would eventually settle up 2.1% at 26.96.
On the economic data front, U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, raising concerns about the health of the nation’s recovery.
The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose to 898,000 for the week ended Oct. 10, up from a revised 845,000 the previous week, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. Analysts in a median forecast were calling for a decline to 830,000.
Jobless claims have been above 800,000 for seven consecutive weeks.
The Final Word: The U.S. economy remains fragile amid a second wave of Covid-19 infections. Combined with political uncertainty, stocks could see volatility over the next few weeks.