Stocks flat following report of 2.4 million more unemployed

Stocks flat following report of 2.4 million more unemployed
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Stocks were relatively flat in opening trading Thursday morning following a report that 2.4 million workers filed unemployment claims last week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 30 points, or 0.1 percent, while the S&P 500 fell 2 points, or 0.1 percent, in the opening minutes of trading, before slipping into positive territory.

The jobless numbers bring the total of seasonally adjusted unemployment claims to more than 38 million since the COVID-19 pandemic brought the economy screeching to a halt in March.

The 2.4 million figure, which would have broken records several times over before the crisis began, was the lowest reading in nine weeks and continued a steady downward trend in weekly claims, which peaked at more than 6 million.

The Congressional Budget Office projected that the quarterly unemployment rate would peak at 15.8 percent later this year and average more than 9 percent in 2021.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans are debating what next steps to take. The Democratic-controlled House approved a $3 trillion package last week, as the GOP-controlled Senate urged more time to see how earlier measures play out.

Congress has approved $3.6 trillion in emergency relief to fight the pandemic and the economic downturn.