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US STOCKS-Dow closes at record high after upbeat jobless claims report

Published 05/07/2021, 04:00 AM
Updated 05/07/2021, 04:10 AM
© Reuters.

* Weekly jobless claims fall more than expected
* Pharma slides as Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine IP waiver
* Regeneron up on better-than-expected quarterly profit

(Updates with close of trading)
By Shreyashi Sanyal and Krystal Hu
May 6 (Reuters) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI
closed at a record high on Thursday, bolstered by an upbeat
weekly jobless claims report, while shares of vaccine makers
dipped after U.S. President Joe Biden backed plans to waive
patents on COVID-19 shots.
Lifted by Apple Inc AAPL.O , the S&P 500 rose after a Labor
Department report showed initial claims for state unemployment
benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 498,000 for the week
ended May 1, compared with 590,000 in the prior week.
Investors were awaiting a more comprehensive non-farm
payrolls report on Friday for clues on the strength of the labor
market and potentially the U.S. Federal Reserve's stance on
monetary policy.
"Investors are encouraged by the low-interest rates and the
stimulus that the government is putting into the economy. We're
also seeing substantial increases in economic projections and
earnings forecasts," said Sam Stovall, chief investment
strategist at CFRA Research.
Pharmaceutical companies dropped after the White House said
Biden made the decision to back a proposed waiver for COVID-19
vaccine intellectual property rights.
Shares in Pfizer Inc PFE.N , Moderna Inc MRNA.O and
Novavax Inc NVAX.O , all involved in the making of COVID-19
vaccines, fell. Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N was near unchanged.
The S&P 500 healthcare sector index .SPXHC slipped, while
the Nasdaq biotechnology index .NBI also dropped.
Moderna's shares cut some losses after it said countries
around the globe would continue buying its COVID-19 vaccine for
years even if patents on the shots are waived. The S&P 500 financials index .SPSY was among the top
performers.
"One sector we are seeing a lot of opportunities in is the
financial sector. We see it as one that should benefit from
higher interest rates and a stronger economic recovery," said
Ann Guntli, portfolio manager at Chicago-based RMB Capital.
Microsoft Corp MSFT.O , Apple AAPL.O and Amazon.com Inc
AMZN.O were up under 1% for most of the session.
Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose
0.92% to end at 34,545.11 points, while the S&P 500 .SPX
gained 0.82% to 4,201.58.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC climbed 0.37% to 13,632.84.
Costco Wholesale COST.O jumped after the retailer said
late on Wednesday that its April sales surged 33.5%. That rally
helped push the S&P 500 consumers staple index higher.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc REGN.O rose after the
drugmaker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and
said it expected demand for its COVID-19 antibody therapy to
hold up. Uber Technologies Inc UBER.N tumbled after it signaled it
would pay drivers more to get cars back on the road as the
pandemic recedes, and disclosed a $600 million charge to provide
UK drivers with benefits.

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