Wall Street was set to open a touch higher on Thursday, with the S&P 500 within striking distance of a record high, after data showed weekly jobless claims fell below 1 million for the first time since March when the effects of COVID-19 shutdowns began to take effect.
The total U.S. jobless claims of 963,000 for the week ended Aug. 8 was well below the estimate of 1.1 million from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. That represented a decline of 228,000 from the previous week’s total.
The number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits fell over last week, the Labor Department’s data showed, signaling a recovery in the job market was on track after data last week showed the economy has regained only 9.3 million jobs of the 22 million jobs lost between February and April.
The S&P 500 ended Wednesday about 0.4% below its intraday record high hit on Feb. 19, having recovered virtually all of its losses due to the pandemic, thanks to unprecedented stimulus and a better-than-feared earnings season.
A bulk of the gains have been driven by technology stocks and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was the first of the three major indexes to recoup its pandemic-driven losses in June.
Apple rose 1.1% in premarket trade, with investors watching for the iPhone maker to become the first publicly-listed U.S. company with a $2 trillion stock market value.
The U.S. has recovered about half the jobs it lost during the pandemic closures, according to recnt nonfarm payrolls report. July saw a gain of about 1.8 million, bringing the unemployment rate down to 10.1%.
However, that remains well above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5%, which was the lowest in 50 years.
MacDailyNews Note: Apple is currently worth $1.949 trillion.