Dow Jones Today: Stocks Backflip as Unemployment Picture Darkens

Stock Market

Stocks rallied early Thursday morning, only to give back much of those gains late in the session as market participants digested unsurprisingly poor, but still staggering, weekly jobless claims reports.

Source: Provided by Finviz

  • The S&P 500 jumped 2.27%
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2.23%
  • The Nasdaq Composite fell 1.72%
  • Earlier today, oil futures traded higher by roughly 24%, helping Chevron (NYSE:CVX) rank as the Dow’s best-performing name on the day.

Indicating that the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy, data released by the Labor Department earlier today confirm 6.6 million workers filed first-time claims for jobless benefits last week, meaning the number over the past two weeks is nearly 10 million.

Though it may be temporary, some economists are forecasting a spike in the unemployment rate to 20% or higher. Mere speculation of that happening could be enough for the White House to push another round of stimulus. After all, this is an election year and no president has been reelected with a jobless rate north of 10%.

On what turned out to be a decent day for stocks, 20 of the 30 Dow components were higher in late trading.

Amazing Oil

Well, for at least for a day. One of this year’s worst-performing commodities posted its largest intraday gain on record with a little help from a Presidential tweet. The president said he’s been communicating with Saudi Arabia about reducing supply to support oil prices.

That helped the aforementioned Chevron and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) rank as the Dow’s top two performers today.

And speaking of Twitter support, Chevron, Exxon and oil equities at large got some help when Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton took to the social media platform, saying he spoke with his counterpart in Russia about the possibility of removing 10 million barrels per day from the market.

Note of Support

Travelers (NYSE:TRV), the lone dedicated property and casualty insurance company in the Dow, traded modestly higher Thursday after Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Meyer Shields upgraded the stock to “hold” from “sell.”

In a sign of the times we’re living in, lower employment means fewer worker’s compensation claims, a potential assist for TRV stock, according to Shields.

Not Really Surprising

In the pantheon of delivering bad news, Boeing (NYSE:BA) is royalty and that’s, well, bad. The aerospace giant extended a run of being one of the worst-performing Dow names Thursday on news that it’s offering a voluntary buyout plan to any interested employees.

“When the world emerges from the pandemic, the size of the commercial market and the types of products and services our customers want and need will likely be different,” said CEO David Calhoun in a letter to workers.

Walgreens Woes

Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA) reported fiscal second-quarter results earlier today and, as expected, it was disaster, sending the stock lower by roughly 8%.

The company said it earned $1.52 a share on $35.82 billion in revenue for the quarter, but its same-store sales slipped because of he coronavirus pandemic.

Bottom Line on the Dow Jones Today

I’ll leave you with some good news today. Credit Suisse was out with a note earlier today highlighting the 10 S&P 500 companies with the best cash positions. The group includes five Dow components: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).

Todd Shriber has been an InvestorPlace contributor since 2014. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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