(Reuters) – Wall Street retreated on Thursday as investors hit the pause button in advance of Friday’s jobs report, capping a four-day rally driven by rising economic sentiment.
While all three major indexes were modestly lower, they have shown remarkable resilience since their late March plunge, with the Nasdaq, the S&P 500 and the Dow now within 2%, 9% and 12% of their respective record highs reached in February.
The Nasdaq 100 briefly breached its record closing high earlier in the session.
“From the S&P 500 Index peak on February 19 to the bear market lows March 23, stocks lost 33.9%,” noted Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Now, 50 trading days later, stocks have gained 39.6%, for the largest 50-day rally since the S&P 500 moved to 500 stocks in 1957.”
“This amount of strength we’ve seen in the last 50 days doesn’t happen in bear markets, they take place at the beginning of extended bull markets,” Detrick added.
Economic data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dipped below 2 million for the first time since mid-March, and plummeting international commerce resulted in a net widening of the U.S. trade gap.
Friday’s much-anticipated jobs report from the Labor Department is expected to show the U.S. unemployment rate sky-rocketing to a historic 19.7%.
Violent protests overnight against the death of George Floyd appeared to abate as prosecutors brought new charges against the officers implicated in the killing.
The European Central Bank approved a stimulus package that surpassed expectations, nearly doubling the size of its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Plan to 1.35 trillion Euros.
Its American counterpart, the U.S. Federal Reserve, is due to meet next week for its two-day policy meeting.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 8.01 points, or 0.03%, to 26,261.88, the S&P 500 lost 9.33 points, or 0.30%, to 3,113.54 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 35.92 points, or 0.37%, to 9,646.99.
Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but financials, industrials and materials were in the red in a continuation of a rotation in cyclicals.
American Airlines Group Inc announced it would beef up its flight schedule in July to 55% of its year-ago capacity as the U.S. economy reopens, sending its shares soaring 30.5%.
The hard-hit commercial airline industry also jumped on the news, with the ARCA Airline index up 9.9%.
Global online commerce platform EBay Inc rose 6.6% after raising current quarter forecasts due to a surge in customer orders.
The Department of Justice gave anti-trust approval for Charles Schwab Corp’s purchase of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, sending their shares up 2.6% and 5.8%, respectively.
J.M. Smucker Co fell 4.6% after the packaged food company forecast a decline in full-year sales.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.08-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.14-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 48 new highs and eight new lows.
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