Stock market news live updates: Stocks open higher as stimulus hopes rise after jobless claims disappoint

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Stocks opened higher Thursday morning, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq headed for a third straight day of gains.

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The three major indexes rose even after the Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report showed that initial claims spiked to the highest level since August last week. However, some strategists have suggested that the recent deterioration in labor market data could further bolster the case for more fiscal stimulus.

“The economy clearly needs additional support from Washington because right now rising jobless claims tells us the labor market recovery has stalled and the direction is full-tilt down,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG Union Bank, said in an email Thursday morning.

In Washington, a majority of members in the House of Representatives voted late Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, making him the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, said he would not call back members of the Senate early before Jan. 19 to hold the impeachment trial, suggesting Trump would serve out the rest of his term. The trial could still take place once Trump leaves office.

Stocks looked through the debates in the House ahead of the impeachment vote. And equities are likely to continue shrugging off the ongoing tension in Washington, according to many strategists.

“The market cares about fundamentals, it cares about profits, it cares about consumer demand,” Eddie Ghabour, managing partner at Key Advisors Group, told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. “So these are headline risks … But look, we had people worried about the election, that proved to be nothing that hurt the market there. People were worried about the runoff election in Georgia. These are just, again, headline risks. They have nothing to do with the fundamentals of the equities, and that’s why the market is going to continue to ignore these things, in my opinion.”

Instead, the prospects of more stimulus — both from Congress and from the Federal Reserve — have helped buoy equities even after stocks’ strong run-up last year and at the beginning of 2021. Stocks have been in a holding pattern over the past couple of sessions as investors await the start of the Biden administration, which in tandem with a Democratic House and Senate, is likely to produce substantial additional fiscal stimulus to support individuals and businesses and boost consumer spending. Biden is expected to unveil details of a substantial additional virus-relief package Thursday.

“We’re still in an economy that is struggling because of the pandemic, and until we put the virus behind us and we can truly open up the economy and get it back to what we were doing, or close to what we were doing, prior to coronavirus, I think stimulus is needed and it’s important,” Jason Ware, Albion Financial Group chief investment officer, told Yahoo Finance.

“As we look at the new administration in Washington and a Congress that’s tilted toward the Democrats, we do expect more stimulus to come down the line,” Ware added. “It’s probably not going to happen over the next couple of weeks, but certainly by the spring an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are still out of work, maybe a boost to what they’re getting on a weekly basis, and fresh stimulus checks closer to $2,000 might be something that has an appetite in Washington.”

Later Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will deliver virtual remarks with the Princeton University Bendheim Center for Finance, adding to the parade of Federal Reserve speakers offering their economic outlooks this week.

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher as stimulus hopes increase after disappointing jobless claims

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 9:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +9.34 points (+0.25%) to 3,819.18

  • Dow (^DJI): +107.54 (+0.35%) to 31,168.01

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +37.73 (+0.29%) to 13,167.06

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.33 (-0.62%) to $52.58 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$11.00 (-0.59%) to $1,843.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.4 bps to yield 1.092%

8:52 a.m. ET: US import, export prices accelerated in December

Prices for U.S. imports and exports both accelerated more than anticipated in December over November, the Commerce Department said Thursday, as fuel prices firmed at the end of a difficult year.

Import prices increased 0.9% in December month-on-month following a 0.2% increase in November. Consensus economists expected a 0.7% rise, according to Bloomberg data. This marked the fastest increase in import prices since August, as fuel prices jumped 7.8%.

Export prices rose 1.1% in December, for a print nearly double the 0.6% consensus estimate. This followed a 0.7% rise in export prices in November, and represented the fastest rise in export prices since June. A 1.3% jump in non-agricultural export prices contributed to much of the gain.

8:40 a.m. ET: New jobless claims spiked last week as labor market deteriorated further amid ongoing pandemic

New weekly unemployment claims spiked far more than expected last week to reach a five-month high, as the coronavirus pandemic and stay-in-place orders weighed heavily on the labor market.

Initial jobless claims totaled 965,000 for the week ended Jan. 9, marking the highest level since August. Consensus economists were looking for a print of 789,000, after the prior week’s revised 784,000 new claims.

Continuing jobless claims, which measure the total number of individuals still receiving regular state unemployment benefits, also unexpectedly rose last week to a one-month high of 5.271 million.

7:40 a.m. ET: Delta posts another steep loss as COVID hits travel demand, but cash burn beats expectations

Delta Air Lines’ (DAL) latest quarterly report reflected another quarter of steep losses as the pandemic continued to weigh on travel demand.

Delta’s adjusted fourth-quarter loss per share was $2.53, or wider than the $2.49 expected, and represented a fourth straight quarterly loss. For the full year, Delta’s losses came in at a massive $15.6 billion before taxes.

However, Delta’s fourth-quarter cash outflow came in smaller than anticipated, suggesting airlines’ aggressive cost-cutting measures and a slow return of travel compared to the spring were beginning to help. December quarter cash burn averaged $12 million per day, or better than the $14 million the company projected and marking a 90% reduction in cash burn since late March.

“Our December quarter results capped the toughest year in Delta’s history,” CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement. “While our challenges continue in 2021, I am optimistic this will be a year of recovery and a turning point that results in an even stronger Delta returning to revenue growth, profitability and free cash generation.”

7:25 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures mixed, Nasdaq futures come under pressure

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 7:25 a.m. ET Thursday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,808.5, up 4.75 points or 0.12%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 31,037.00, up 78 points or 0.25%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,964.00, down 8.25 points or 0.06%

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.21 (-0.4%) to $52.70 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$11.50 (-0.62%) to $1,843.40 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.7 bps to yield 1.105%

6:03 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures open higher

Here were the main moves in markets, as of 6:03 p.m. ET Wednesday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,807.25, up 3.5 points or 0.09%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 30,992.00, up 33 points or 0.11%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 12,973.5, up 1.25 points or 0.01%





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A man walks outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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