July 22, 2021

By Jessica DiNapoli

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stock markets turned positive on Thursday as investors digested data showing a two-month high in unemployment claims as the country still grapples with the pandemic, while yields on safe-haven assets such as U.S. Treasuries eased.

All three major U.S. stock indexes were positive by mid-afternoon after the Dow and S&P 500 fell earlier in the day in on the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits. The dollar also rose after it had slid earlier in the trading session.

“We had a form of capitulation in the market, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday, but a sign of resilience occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Steve Goldman at Goldman Management. “That’s typically a favorable sign for a market not far from its high. That’s usually a hopeful sign. It tends to indicate that the selling pressure has subsided.”

By mid-afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 80.36 points, or 0.23%, to 34,878.36, the S&P 500 gained 10.12 points, or 0.23%, to 4,368.81 and the Nasdaq Composite added 53.53 points, or 0.37%, to 14,685.48.

“The jobless claims data that came out this morning was soft and continues to be stubbornly elevated,” said Sean Bandazian, investment analyst for Cornerstone Wealth. “The market is probably digesting some volatility from the last several days. We had a pretty sizable drawdown and then recovery making back 75% of what we lost Friday and Monday.”

There were increases in filings for unemployment benefits in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and Texas. Some of these states have experienced a surge in new coronavirus cases as the more contagious Delta variant spreads.

Still, the weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department showed more people are returning to work, a trend that bodes well for July’s employment report.

The dollar index, meanwhile, rose 0.1% to 92.87, as the impact of the softer-than-expected U.S. jobless claims data faded.

Yields on U.S. Treasuries eased after an auction of $16 billion in 10-year TIPS. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell 2.2 basis points to 1.260%.

Earlier this week, a revived appetite for riskier assets came as worries eased that the Delta variant of COVID-19 would seriously crimp economic recovery, helping to lift crude oil prices.

“The markets are caught in a bit of pincer movement between concerns about higher inflation and lower growth and that will continue,” said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

Graphic: Inflation at ECB target: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/oakvebqagpr/CPI0101.PNG


Oil prices rose more than $1 a barrel on Thursday, extending strong gains made in the previous sessions on expectations of tighter supplies until the end of the year as economies recover from the pandemic.

U.S. crude recently rose 2.28% to $71.90 per barrel and Brent was at $73.81, up 2.19% on the day. [O/R]

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.39%.

Spot gold added 0.2% to $1,806.71 an ounce.

Cryptocurrencies were firm after bouncing from lows when Tesla boss Elon Musk said the carmaker would likely restart accepting bitcoin payments after due diligence on its energy use.

Bitcoin was up 0.32% at $32,245.

Graphic: Dollar strength: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/akpezgzjlvr/Pasted%20image%201626897217870.png

(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; additional reporting by Huw Jones, Sujata Rao-Coverley and Tom Westbrook; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Steve Orlofsky and Cynthia Osterman)