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Wall Street again falls just short of S&P 500 record

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 80.12 points to 27,896.72.
The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 80.12 points to 27,896.72.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Another afternoon fade for stocks left Wall Street just shy of a record Thursday, after the S&P 500 briefly crossed above its all-time closing high for the second straight day.

The S&P 500 dipped 6.92 points, or 0.2%, to 3,373.43. At one point during the day, it climbed above 3,386.15. That’s the record closing level it set in February, before investors appreciated how much devastation the new coronavirus would cause for the global economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 80.12, or 0.3%, to 27,896.72. The Nasdaq composite climbed 30.27, or 0.3%, to 11,042.50.

It’s just the second loss for the S&P 500 in the last 10 days. The index began stumbling in the early afternoon, as Treasury yields were accelerating following an auction of 30-year bonds by the U.S. government. Higher yields mean prices for bonds were falling.

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Yields had already perked up before the auction, following a report showing that 963,000 U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. It’s an incredibly high number of layoffs, but it’s also the first time the tally has dropped below 1 million since March, before widespread business lockdowns caused a tsunami of layoffs.

Economists said the drop in jobless claims, which was better than the market was expecting, is an encouraging step. But they also cautioned that it could be more of an outlier than a trend, and more data reports are needed to confirm it.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 0.71%. It was at 0.57% Monday.

Wall Street has erased almost all of the nearly 34% drop the S&P 500 suffered from late February into March, even though the economy is still hobbled despite some recent improvements.

Massive efforts to support the economy by the Federal Reserve and U.S. government helped trigger the rally, and investors are now waiting for Congress and the White House to deliver another round of aid after unemployment benefits and other measures in the last tranche expired.

Democrats and Republicans are still far apart, but hope remains on Wall Street that they’ll reach a stimulus deal that investors say is crucially needed.

Most stocks in the S&P 500 and across Wall Street were weaker Thursday. Energy producers had some of the sharpest losses, but resilience for Apple and several other Big Tech stocks helped to keep the losses in check.

Cisco Systems slumped 11.2% for the biggest loss in the S&P 500, even though it reported better results for its latest quarter than Wall Street expected. It gave a forecast for the current quarter that fell short of analysts’ forecasts.

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In Asian stock markets, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 1.8%, South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1%. Stocks in Shanghai were virtually flat.

In European markets, Germany’s DAX lost 0.5%, and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.6%. The FTSE 100 in London dropped 1.5%.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 43 cents to settle at $42.24 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 47 cents to $44.96 a barrel.

Gold for delivery in December rose $21.40 to settle at $1,970.40 per ounce.


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