Wall Street edges lower as jobless claims unexpectedly rise

Wall Street’s main indexes edged lower on Thursday after an unexpected rise in weekly jobless claims cooled a rally in economy-linked cyclical stocks, while gains in megacap growth firms kept declines at bay.Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors rose, with energy, financials, industrials and materials leading the charge.

Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased by 51,000 to a seasonally adjusted 419,000 in the week ended July 17, hitting a two-month high. The report also showed more people returning to work, a positive trend for July’s employment data.

“One data point isn’t a trend, and a one-off can probably be chalked up to Delta variant concerns. If jobs data doesn’t inflect soon, the markets and the Fed will be put on notice,” said Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth.

Investors have been closely following the health of the jobs market on which the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy hinges, especially after a series of higher inflation reading recently sparked fears about a sooner-than expected paring of policy support as the economy reopens.

A shift in attention to corporate earnings and the so-called value stocks have helped Wall Street recoup most of its declines from earlier in the week that were triggered by concerns about the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The S&P 500 energy sector fell 1.5% after rising in the last two sessions, while technology was the biggest gainer among the 11 major sector indexes.

Apple Inc,, Facebook Inc, Google-owner Alphabet Inc and Microsoft Corp rose ahead of their quarterly results next week.

“The market is trying to understand how economic growth will decelerate going forward ... we’re going to still see energy, financials, industrials doing very well in the medium term, but the more secular growth winners will continue to drive the market for the future,” said Omar Aguilar, chief investment officer of passive equity and multi-asset strategies for Charles Schwab Investment Management.

Second-quarter earnings are expected to grow 76.5%% for S&P 500 companies, according to Refinitiv IBES estimates. So far, 88.5% of the 104 companies in the benchmark index that reported results for the quarter beat profit expectations, the highest since 1994.

Drugmaker Biogen Inc gained 1.3% on raising its full-year revenue expectations, while Domino’s Pizza Inc jumped 13.0% to a record high on upbeat quarterly results.

Southwest Airlines Co fell 4.2% after it posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, pushing the S&P 1500 Airlines index down 2.2%.

Micron Technology Inc slumped 5.4% even as the chipmaker beat estimates for quarterly profit and forecast fourth-quarter revenue above expectations.

Didi Global Inc jumped 14.1%, a day after its shares ended their first day of U.S. trading slightly over their initial public offering price, valuing China’s ride-hailing giant at $68.49 billion.

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