July 1 (Reuters) – The S&P 500 index kicked off the second half of the year at a record high on Thursday as data showed fewer-than-expected weekly jobless claims, while energy stocks were supported by a spike in oil prices.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 51,000 to a seasonally adjusted 364,000 in the week ended June 26, while layoffs plunged to a 21-year low in June as companies held on to their workers amid labor shortages. read more
“This morning’s beat on jobless claims is a real bright spot,” said Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth.
“Staying below that big-round-number 400,000 level could bolster confidence in risk-taking during the dog days of summer.”
Separately, ISM data showed U.S. manufacturing activity grew at a moderate pace in June but employment contracted for the first time in seven months. read more
With the S&P 500 (.SPX) and the Nasdaq (.IXIC) hitting a series of record highs last month, investors are razor-focused on Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report, where a strong reading could force the U.S. Federal Reserve to rethink its accommodative stance.
Focus also shifts to the second-quarter earnings season in the coming weeks to gauge whether the first-half momentum could continue further for the remaining year.
“You can make a case for the market being expensive, but I don’t think we’re headed for any major correction. Could we see a pullback as we wait for the earnings? That’s a possibility,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
At 11:38 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was up 82.70 points, or 0.24%, at 34,585.21 and the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 11.28 points, or 0.26%, at 4,308.78. The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was down 39.56 points, or 0.27%, at 14,464.40.
MGM Resorts International (MGM.N) rose 1.6% after the U.S. casino operator said it will buy the remaining 50% stake in its JV, CityCenter Holdings LLC, for $2.125 billion from Infinity World Development.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.76-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 48 new highs and 19 new lows.
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