US stocks were mixed around midday on Wednesday after jobless claims rose for a second straight week amid rising COVID-19 infections. The US markets will be closed on Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 176.81 points, or 0.59%, to 29,869.43. The S&P 500 edged down 10.23 points, or 0.28% to 3,625.18, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 20.18 points, or 0.17%, to 12,056.96.
On Tuesday, the Dow and the S&P closed at record levels, with the Dow surpassing the 30,000 mark, as the prospect of a smooth transition to a new presidential administration buoyed Wall Street and global markets.
But focus returned to the labor market after new unemployment claims came in at 778,000 for the Nov. 11 week versus the consensus for 730,000 compiled by Econoday and the 748,000 revised claims in the previous week. It was the second straight weekly rise as more restrictions are imposed to contain rising coronavirus cases.
Global infections climbed close to 60 million, including 12.6 million in the US, according a Johns Hopkins University tracking website. The US logged more than 260,000 fatalities since February.
Meanwhile, The Gap (GPS) slumped almost 19% after reporting a mixed set of quarterly results against market expectations.
"We think the low SG&A flow-through and comments that marketing could remain elevated add some new concerns that GPS will be able to achieve those targets as easily," Credit Suisse analysts said. Still, they raised their price target to $23 from $19 while keeping their underperform rating.
Separately, Slack Technologies (WORK) jumped 23% after The Wall Street Journal reported that Salesforce (CRM) held talks to buy the firm.
On the energy front, oil prices were firmer, with US West Texas Intermediate crude up 1.5% to $45.56 per barrel and Brent crude up 1.1% to $48.38. Natural gas rose 0.6% to $2.79 per 1 million BTU. Oil majors were weaker, with Exxon Mobil (XOM), ConocoPhillips (COP) and Chevron (CVX) all lower.
Among the gainers, AnPac Bio-Medical (ANPC) more than doubled after reporting a record volume for cancer tests in Q3. ZK International (ZKIN) soared 38% after its unit, xSigma Corp., launched a decentralized finance or DeFi protocol to provide a new level of transparency, legitimacy, and security to decentralized financial blockchain-based contracts. RenalytixAI (RNLX) surged 30% after its joint venture unit secured an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 antibody test kit.
On the losing side, Hepion Pharmaceuticals (HEPA) shed 27% after pricing its 20 million shares offering at $1.50 each, a discount to its Tuesday's closing price of $2.18. Reata Pharmaceuticals (RETA) lost 8% after the US Food and Drug Administration concluded that its omaveloxolone trial results for the treatment of patients with Friedreich's ataxia, a degenerative neuromuscular disorder, do not strengthen the Part 2 outcome of the MOXIe study.
In the precious metals markets, gold was up 0.2% to $1,815.10 an ounce, and Silver added 0.3% to $23.49 an ounce.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund rose 1.6% to $31.30 while the United States Natural Gas Fund was fractionally lower to $10.46. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF added 0.8% to $33.79 and SPDR Gold Shares nudged up 0.3% to $170.10. The iShares Silver Trust advanced 0.5% to $21.73.