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US: Stocks end higher, overlooking latest layoff data

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Wall Street stocks finished solidly higher on Thursday, with traders looking past another spike in jobless claims caused by the coronavirus and instead focusing on the gradual reopening of the US economy.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished solidly higher on Thursday, with traders looking past another spike in jobless claims caused by the coronavirus and instead focusing on the gradual reopening of the US economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.9 per cent to end at 23,875.89.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 1.2 per cent to close at 2,881.19, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.4 per cent to 8,979.66.

Another 3.2 million workers applied for US unemployment claims last week, according to the latest government data, taking the count in the wake of coronavirus shutdowns to 33.5 million.

The data came ahead of Friday's potentially historic April jobs report, which will provide the most comprehensive accounting thus far of the devastation in the labour market following the shutdowns.

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Trading in Thursday's session - which at times lifted the Nasdaq back into positive territory for the year - again illustrated the market's focus on the future.

"Investors are looking forward to a reopening of the economy and they are looking past Covid-19," said Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investments.

A positive catalyst on Thursday was an announcement from biotech company Moderna that it received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration for a phase-two study of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Shares of Moderna jumped 8.7 per cent following the statement.

PayPal surged 14.0 per cent as it reported a drop in first-quarter profits but described strong growth in April in which it added 7.4 million new active accounts.

Peloton Interactive was another big winner, soaring 16 per cent as it lifted its full-year forecast in light of strong demand for at-home exercise equipment.

AFP

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