Finance

Stocks inch up as 5-week jobless claims top 24 million

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Stock markets inched up Thursday morning after the Labor Department announced an additional 4.4 million new seasonally adjusted unemployment claims as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on the economy, bringing the five-week unadjusted total to more than 24 million.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up just over 200 points, or 0.9 percent, and the S&P 500 was up 28 points, or 1 percent.

Markets were calmed in part by a 20 percent revival in the oil price, which earlier in the week had entered unprecedented territory as futures dropped into negative territory.

The jobless data has some economists estimating the unemployment rate from the pandemic at Depression-era levels of over 20 percent. The number of jobs wiped out since states started going into lockdown to contain the virus has exceeded the number of jobs created in the recovery since the Great Recession ended in 2009.

On Thursday, the House is expected to pass a bill replenishing funds for a small-business loans program designed to keep workers on the payrolls.

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