Nasdaq powers higher as Dow drops over 361 points

Spiking coronavirus cases jolts stocks

U.S. equity markets ended the session mixed on Thursday in what was a volatile session with the Nasdaq pulling down another record.

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Investors weighed reports that coronavirus cases continue to climb, while also taking in fresh data on unemployment.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES27791.44+357.96+1.30%
SP500S&P 5003360.47+9.19+0.27%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX10968.356828-42.63-0.39%

The tech-heavy composite rose 0.53 percent one day after booking its best five-day start to a second-half since 2003. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 360 points, or 1.38 percent, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.53 percent.

Initial jobless claims for the week ended July 3 totaled 1.314 million, meaning nearly 50 million Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits since mid-March, when stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 forced non-essential businesses to close.

Continuing claims fell to 18.06 million. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting 1.375 million initial claims and 18.95 million continuing claims. Whether the better-than-expected performance will continue is unclear.

Governors have begun to slow the return to business as usual in some states as new infections per day spike to more than 50,000 nationwide. The percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise, too, hitting almost 27 percent in Arizona, 19 percent in Florida and 17 percent in South Carolina.

That raises the specter of further lockdowns and extended job losses.

In other news, the Supreme Court ruled that President Trump must release his tax records to the Manhattan district attorney which created some volatility mid-session.

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Looking at stocks, tech stalwarts Apple, Amazon and Netflix were in focus a day after hitting fresh highs.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AAPLAPPLE INC.450.91+6.46+1.45%
AMZNAMAZON.COM INC.3,148.16-19.30-0.61%
NFLXNETFLIX INC.483.38-11.35-2.29%

Meanwhile, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric-vehicle maker was “very close” to Level 5 autonomous driving technology, or the ability for a car to operate without any help from a driver. Shares of the company slipped off their record high on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Carnival Corp.’s German unit, AIDA Cruises, has begun taking reservations for August sale dates. The cruises, which will sail at reduced capacity, will require passengers to fill out a questionnaire and have their temperature taken before boarding.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
TSLATESLA INC.1,418.57-34.14-2.35%
CCLCARNIVAL CORP.15.44+1.22+8.58%
RCLROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES57.31+5.21+10.00%
NCLHNORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE HOLDINGS LTD.15.13+1.14+8.15%

Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. will shutter more than 200 stores over the next two years, an action that will save the home-goods retailer about $250 million to $350 million annually.

In earnings, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. lost $1.7 billion as COVID-19 curbed sales by $700 million to $750 million. The drugstore took a $2 billion charge due to weakness in its U.K. business.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
BBBYBED BATH & BEYOND INC.12.66+0.55+4.54%
WBAWALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE INC.42.86+1.34+3.23%

West Texas Intermediate crude oil slid over 3 percent to $39.62 per barrel while gold fell nearly 1 percent to $1,799.20 per ounce.

U.S. Treasurys ticked higher, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down to 0.605 percent.

In Europe, indexes were lower across the board. Britain’s FTSE fell 1.73 percent, while Germany's DAX dropped 0.04 percent and France's CAC tumbled 1.21 percent.

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China’s Shanghai Composite led the charge higher in Asia, adding 1.38 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.4 percent and 0.31 percent, respectively.