S&P 500 hits record as weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rise

Ford, GM announce deeper production cuts due to chip shortage

The S&P 500 rallied to record highs Thursday as Big Tech outperformed and as weekly jobless claims unexpectedly rose.

The benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.42% while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.03%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, climbed 57 points, or 0.17% to finish less than 25 points below its own all-time peak. 

The gains came a day after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March meeting showed the central bank plans to continue the pace of its asset purchase program in an effort to meet its dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability and despite initial jobless claims ticking higher.  

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 33800.6 +297.03 +0.89%
SP500 S&P 500 4128.8 +31.63 +0.77%
I:COMP n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

The number of Americans filing first-time jobless benefits totaled 744,000 the Labor Department said Thursday. The reading was more than the 680,000 forecast by economists and above the previous week's total, which was revised up by 9,000 to 728,000 claims. 

In stocks, Big Tech outperformed with Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. pacing the Dow. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MSFT MICROSOFT CORP. 255.85 +2.60 +1.03%
AAPL APPLE, INC. 133.00 +2.63 +2.02%
AMZN AMAZON.COM, INC. 3,372.20 +72.90 +2.21%

Meanwhile, Amazon.com Inc’s union election in Alabama had a 55% turnout with the vote tally expected to begin as early as Thursday afternoon. The workers could become the first to unionize an Amazon facility. 

Elsewhere, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. said they would further cut production of vehicles due to the global chip shortage. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. 60.10 +0.06 +0.10%
F FORD MOTOR CO. 12.52 +0.02 +0.16%

GameStop Corp. announced plans to elect activist investor Ryan Cohen as chairman of the board. Cohen, who co-founded the online pet supply retailer Chewy, has been instrumental in the transformation of GameStop's business model to one based on e-commerce.    

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GME GAMESTOP 158.36 -11.90 -6.99%
STRZ STAR BUFFET 0.0701 -0.11 -62.11%

In earnings, Constellation Brands Inc. reported quarterly earnings and revenue that exceed Wall Street estimates. The beverage producer expects beer sales to decline 7% to 9% in the current fiscal year and wine and spirit sales to fall 22% to 24%. 

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil lost 17 cents to $59.60 per barrel and gold added $16.70 to $1,756.80 an ounce.

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Overseas markets finished mostly higher.

Britain's FTSE 100 led gains in Europe, trading up 0.83%, while France's CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX 30 advanced 0.57% and 0.17%, respectively. 

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 1.16%, China’s Shanghai Composite index ticked up 0.08% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.07%.