• Initial jobless claims totaled 1.5 million last week, higher than expected
  • Continuing claims slipped slightly to 20.5 million
  • The Philadelphia Fed index climbed to 27.5 in June from minus-43.1 in May

U.S. stocks finished mixed on Thursday in choppy trading as another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance, while worries about the covid-19 pandemic deepened.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 39.51 points to 26,080.10, while the S&P 500 edged up 1.85 points to 3,115.34 and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 32.52 points to 9,943.05.

Thursday’s volume on the New York Stock Exchange totaled 3.67 billion shares with 1,194 issues advancing, 38 setting new highs, and 1,761 declining, with four stocks setting new lows .

Active movers were led by Ideanomics Inc. (IDEX), Urban One Inc. (UONEK) and NIO Inc. (NIO).

Initial jobless claims totaled 1.5 million last week, higher than expected, and remained above 1 million for the 13th consecutive week. Continuing claims slipped slightly to 20.5 million.

“While initial claims have now fallen for the 11th straight week after the late March spike, this past week saw the slowest pace of decline on a percentage basis since early April so we’ll see if this is where it settles out for now,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.

Lisa Abramowicz of Bloomberg tweeted: “The May jobs optimism is not confirmed in the latest U.S. initial [and] continuing jobless claims data.”

Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, tweeted that “continuing claims still persistently high.”

The Philadelphia Fed index, which measures regional business conditions, climbed to 27.5 in June from minus-43.1 in May.

Chinese health officials claimed the recent outbreak of coronavirus in Beijing has been brought under control.

But several states in the U.S., including Arizona and Texas, recorded a spike in either new covid-19 infections or hospitalizations.

“The fears regarding infection rates following the reopening of various states within the U.S. and in other countries are understandable,” said Michael Shaoul, chairman and CEO of Marketfield Asset Management. “We do not doubt that progress will have a staccato feel to it in many localities, but we would be very surprised if another outbreak took hold that came anywhere close to what we saw take place at the start of 2020.”

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators increased by 2.8% in May to 99.8, following a 6.1% decline in April, and a 7.5% drop in March.

"In May, the U.S. LEI showed a partial recovery from its sharp decline over the previous three months, as economic activity began to pick up again," said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board. "The relative improvement in unemployment insurance claims is responsible for about two-thirds of the gain in the index.”

The Bank of England said it will increase its bond buying program by £100 billion ($125 billion).

“We believe the market is pricing in quite a bit of good news and the rally is likely to take a breather in coming months as the recovery evolves,” said Scott Wren, Wells Fargo’s senior global market strategist. “We expect volatility in the coming months as we gauge how the reopenings are going and how consumer spending is progressing.”

Overnight in Asia, markets finished mixed. The Shanghai Composite edged up 0.12%; Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged down 0.07%; while Japan’s Nikkei-225 slipped 0.45%.

In Europe markets finished lower, as Britain’s FTSE-100 dropped 0.47%, while France’s CAC-40 tumbled 0.75% and Germany’s DAX fell 0.81%.

Crude oil futures rose 2.29% at $38.83 per barrel, Brent crude edged down 0.06% at $41.45. Gold futures slipped 0.17%.

The euro slipped 0.35% at $1.204 while the pound sterling plunged 1.08% at $1.242.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped 5.18% to 0.695% while yield on the 30-year Treasury dropped 4% to 1.463%.