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Dow Cuts Losses as Stimulus Talks Resume, Tech Flexes Muscles

The Dow cut losses Thursday, as stimulus appears to be back on the agenda on Capitol Hill at a time when the labor market is showing signs of weakness as Covid-19 cases continue to spike.    

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.18%, or 51 points. The S&P 500 was up 0.36%, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.87%.

"Last night, they've agreed to sit down and the staffs are going to sit down today or tomorrow to try to begin to see if we can get a real good Covid relief bill," Sen. Charles Schumer said during a press conference in New York. "So there's been a little bit of a breakthrough in that [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell's folks are finally sitting down and talking to us."

The update helped stocks turned positive, easing investor worries over the economy on signs of a slowdown in the labor market and surging Covid-19 cases.

The Labor Department reported that 742,000 people filed for unemployment insurance in the week ended November 14, up 31,000 from the prior week, above economists' forecasts for 707,000 claims.

Signs of weakness in the labor market will likely continue in the weeks ahead as the surge in the virus prompts further parts of the U.S. to impose restrictions to curb the virus.

"Overall, the back-up in claims this week is somewhat troubling, and likely indicative of what we are going to see in the next few weeks ahead," Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) Thomas Simons.

The U.S. reported a daily record of 1,900 deaths on Wednesday, official health data showed, with the hospitalizations from the virus nationwide hitting another record.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against travel ahead of Thanksgiving next week.

Value stocks like financials, energy, and industrials turned green.

There was also further optimism on the vaccine front after AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) said its coronavirus vaccine had shown signs of strong immune responses among older adults.

Consumer discretionary stocks, meanwhile, received a boost from a surge in L Brands.

L Brands (NYSE:LB) rallied 18% following earnings that topped analyst estimates, underpinned by strong results at Bath & Body Works amid pandemic-fueled demand for soap and hand sanitizer.

Macy’s (NYSE:M) reported better-than-expected earnings, but same-store sales fell short of estimates. Its shares rose 2%.

Tech, however, remained above the flatline as the Fab 5 traded higher. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft  (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) traded higher.

In other news, Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) climbed 4% after Jefferies upgraded the stock to a buy rating, on expectations strength in internet shopping will continue to boost demand.

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Nov 20, 2020