S&P 500 hits record high as investors cheer solid earnings and strong jobless claims data

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Deutsche Bank said retail investors have been key players in the stock market rally Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

US stocks closed higher on Thursday with the S&P 500 hitting a fresh record high as investors cheered solid corporate earnings and strong jobless claims data.

The benchmark S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 rose toward record highs on Thursday led by bank, technology, and travel shares.

Strong corporate earnings have pushed the three major indexes higher amid various concerns threatening the pandemic recovery, such as the rise of the delta variant and rising inflation.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4:00 p.m. ET close on Thursday:

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped less than expected last week, according to the Labor Department, capping off a volatile month that signaled a slowing of the labor market’s rebound.

Jobless claims dipped to an unadjusted 385,000, compared to a median estimate of 383,000 claims from economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The reading also keeps claims well above the pandemic-era low set earlier in July.

While jobless claims have been erratic over the last few months, the drop in data suggests more people are taking jobs, according to Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade Financial. The historic trade deficit that surged to a record high in June is also a testament to the demand seen from consumers.

Goldman Sachs on Thursday pushed up its target for the S&P 500 index, saying growth in corporate earnings should in part drive the broad-equity market measure up by 7% by the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, shares of Robinhood tumbled 27% after major shareholders filed to sell 98 million shares, taking the wind out of a massive two-day rally less than a week since the popular trading app made its Nasdaq debut.

Fastly plunged as much as 22% on Thursday after the company’s second-quarter earnings and third-quarter guidance was lower than analyst expectations.

In cryptocurrencies, ether surged as much as 8% over the past 24 hours to a high of $US2,820 ($AU3,842) after a network upgrade to ethereum took effect.

Oil prices reversed the previous day’s losses. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.35% to $US69.07 ($AU94) per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, climbed 1.31%, to $US71.30 ($AU97) per barrel.

Gold slipped by 0.41%, to $US1,804.33 ($AU2,458) per ounce.