US stocks dip as stimulus hopes waver and jobless claims hit 11-week high

Worried trader
  • US stocks edged lower on Thursday amid disappointing economic data and slowed stimulus progress.
  • New US weekly jobless claims jumped to an unadjusted 853,000 for the week that ended on Saturday, handily exceeding the 725,000 estimate. It was also the highest total in 11 weeks.
  • Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over a new fiscal relief package. The House voted Wednesday night to fund the government for an additional week and buy more time for stimulus negotiations.
  • The US Food and Drug Administration is set to evaluate Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Thursday and decide whether its benefits outweigh its risks for use in people at least 16 years old.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US stocks fell slightly on Thursday as jobless claims leaped to unexpected highs and Congress hit a snag in stimulus negotiations.

New filings for unemployment benefits climbed to an unadjusted 853,000 for the week that ended on Saturday, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a reading of 725,000 claims. The reading was the highest level in 11 weeks and a sharp increase from the previous week’s revised total of 716,000.

Continuing claims, which track the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits, jumped to 5.8 million for the week that ended on November 28. That came in above economists’ forecasts and marked the first weekly increase since August.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Thursday:

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“The jump in weekly unemployment claims was partially due to a rebound from lower claims during Thanksgiving week, but the trend of more Americans losing jobs is clearly rising over the last month,” said Robert Frick, a corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.

On the stimulus front, Democratic and Republican leaders remain at odds over key elements of their respective proposals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has offered a package without pandemic-related liability protections for businesses and aid for state and local governments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi balked at the proposal, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasized the need for more state and local relief.

The House voted Wednesday night to fund the government for another week and buy extra time for stimulus talks.

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The US Food and Drug Administration convened to evaluate Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. A panel is set to vote on Thursday on whether the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people at least 16 years old.

Airbnb is set to begin trading on Thursday after raising $3.5 billion in its initial public offering. On Wednesday, DoorDash shares nearly doubled in the company’s first day of public trading.

Bitcoin fell to a 24-hour low of $18,021.45 before bouncing back above $18,100. The token has steadily trended lower after hitting a record high in early December.

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Gold edged as much as 0.4% higher, to $1,847.75 per ounce. The US dollar weakened against a basket of Group-of-20 currencies, and Treasury yields fell.

Oil prices gained on vaccine hopes. West Texas Intermediate crude rose as much as 1.8%, to $46.33 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, jumped 1.9%, to $49.77 per barrel, at intraday highs.

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