Midday Report: US Stocks Mixed Amid COVID-19 Restrictions; Oil Drops With Treasuries as Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Jump

Thursday, November 19, 2020 1:05 PM | MT Newswires

US stocks were mixed while oil futures declined with Treasuries as initial jobless claims unexpectedly rose for the first week in five and the imposition of new COVID-19 led social restrictions continued to undermine investor sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 140.95 points, or 0.5%, to 29,295.40 with S&P 500 lower by 0.4% to 3,557.61. Nasdaq was higher by 0.3% to 11,837.32. While technology was the top performing sector, utilities and healthcare were among the steepest decliners after midday on Thursday.

The West Texas Intermediate futures retreated by 0.8% to $41.50 and the US 10-year yield slipped by 3.5 basis points to 0.85%.

Initial jobless filings rose by 31,000 during the week that ended Nov. 14 to 742,000, above the consensus on Econoday for 710,000. The prior week's report was revised up to 711,000 from the initial reading of 709,000.

The US recorded more than 170,000 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as infections in the country continued to set new records almost daily in November, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. A number of jurisdictions around the country have announced new restrictions as the number of fatalities above 1,000 a day for eight of the past nine days. New York City said Wednesday its schools would operate classes remotely, shutting down the largest public school in the country.

"Despite hopes of a vaccine, the immediate focus remains on stemming the spread of the virus with local officials returning to more aggressive restrictions and lockdown measures as caseloads surge and hospital systems near capacity," a report from Stifel said.

In company news, L Brands (LB) on late Wednesday reported third-quarter sales and earnings that beat expectations. Shares surged by 16% intraday, the most on S&P 500. The steepest decliner on the index was Robert Half International (RHI), who shares dropped 6.2% following a Credit Suisse downgrade to underperform from neutral.

In the precious metals markets, gold was 0.8% lower to $1,859.60 an ounce, with silver down 2% to $23.97 an ounce but copper up 0.2% to $3.20 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund fell 0.7% to $28.81 and the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 3.8% to $9.89. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 1.1% to $35.53 and SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.4% to $174.76. The iShares Silver Trust was down 1.4% to $22.23.

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