Dow flirts with record highs as steadying yields extend the tech sector’s rebound

NYSE Trader smile happy
Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 13, 2020 at Wall Street in New York City. Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
  • US stocks rose on Thursday as volatility in the Treasury market cooled and investors scooped up growth stocks.
  • The Dow hovered near record highs and surging tech names led the Nasdaq to outperform.
  • Weekly jobless claims reached 712,000, marking a sharp decline from the previous week’s sum and beating the median estimate of 725,000.
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US equities climbed on Thursday as tech stocks soared higher and investors looked to new stimulus to accelerate the economic recovery.

The Dow Jones industrial average hovered around record highs after reaching an all-time high the session prior. The Nasdaq outperformed peers.

Cooling volatility in the Treasury market led investors to push back into the tech giants that tumbled throughout last week. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Tesla all gained. Still, the tech sector sits well below the highs seen in January.

The 10-year Treasury yield hovered at 1.52%. Investors slowed their retreat from government debt on Wednesday after a key inflation report showed price growth in February landing below economist forecasts.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Thursday:

Stocks traded mixed in the previous session as investors wavered between dumping tech names and buying the sector at lower prices. GameStop saw renewed volatility as retail investors fueled a rapid ascent and a just-as-swift decline that triggered six trading halts throughout the day.

Bullish outlooks were bolstered on Wednesday after the House passed President Joe Biden’s $US1.9 ($2) trillion stimulus measure in a final vote. The bill is set to be signed by the president on Friday, allowing expanded unemployment benefits to continue into September instead of expiring on March 14.

Economic data published Thursday further supported optimism toward the US recovery. Initial jobless claims for the week that ended Saturday totaled an unadjusted 712,000, according to the Labor Department. The sum is well below the previous week’s revised reading of 754,000 and the consensus economist estimate of 725,000 new claims.

Continuing claims, which track Americans currently receiving unemployment benefits, fell to 4.1 million for the week that ended February 27. That landed below the median estimate of 4.2 million claims.

The report shows a “clear drop” that suggests temporary job losses linked to February’s winter storm “have been more than offset by a decline in the underlying trend in claims,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.

“When states re-open, firms which may have been on the brink of layoffs have an incentive to hold onto staff for a while longer, at least,” he added. “We expect this effect to become much more powerful over the next couple of months, and we expect to see jobless claims falling rapidly through the spring.”

Bitcoin broke above key resistance levels and stabilized around $US57,000 ($73,263). The popular cryptocurrency is now roughly $US1,000 ($1,285) away from hitting record highs last seen in February.

Spot gold edged as much as 0.77% higher, to $US1,739.94 ($2,236) per ounce. The US dollar weakened against Group-of-20 currency peers.

Oil prices gained. West Texas Intermediate crude rose as much as 1.85%, to $US65.63 ($84) per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, jumped %, to $US69.13 ($89) per barrel, at intraday highs.