Stocks drop as unemployment claims spike
U.S. stock markets opened to losses on Thursday following an unexpectedly poor initial jobless claims report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 120 points, or 0.4 percent, and the S&P 500 dropped 17 points, or 0.4 percent.
The declines, which followed a strong start in February that saw record highs, were registered after data from the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims at a seasonally adjusted 861,000, an unexpected increase paired with an upward revision of the previous week’s data.
Claims have now exceeded their Great Recession record for 48 straight weeks.
But government data showed more promising news this week as well. Wednesday data showed retail sales jumping 5.3 percent in January, a boost fueled by the distribution of $600 stimulus checks.
Congress is hashing out details of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in hopes of passing it before emergency unemployment programs expire on March 14.
Updated at 4:32 p.m.