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Stock Market News for Jan 15, 2021

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Benchmarks closed in the red on Thursday, as rise in weekly initial jobless claims suggested that economic growth is stalling again. Investors awaited President-elect Joe Biden’s speech to unveil a stimulus plan later yesterday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 68.95 points, or 0.2%, to close at 30,991.52 and the S&P 500 lost 14.3 points, or 0.4%, to close at 3,795.54. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 13,112.64, declining 16.31 points, or 0.1%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) increased 4.7%, to close at 23.25. Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones for 2.24-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.51-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq favored advancers.

How Did the Benchmarks Perform?

The S&P 500’s energy sector gained 3% and was the highest gainer of the broader index as oil prices rose on Thursday. Out of its 11 major sectors, seven ended in the red, with technology, communication services, and consumer discretionary closing at least 0.7% lower for the session.

The Dow closed lower weighed down by a 3.6% and 2.1% decline in shares of Visa Inc. (V - Free Report) and The Home Depot, Inc. (HD - Free Report) , respectively. However, Intel Corporation (INTC - Free Report) continued its winning streak from Wednesday and emerged as a winner closing 4% higher yesterday. Intel carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The Nasdaq was dragged down by decline in tech stocks, shares of Atlassian Corporation Plc (TEAM - Free Report) , DexCom, Inc. (DXCM - Free Report) , Match Group, Inc. (MTCH - Free Report) and T-Mobile US, Inc. (TMUS - Free Report) closed at least 2.9% lower on Thursday. Heavyweight tech stocks like Facebook, Inc. (FB - Free Report) dropped 2.4%, while, Inc. (AMZN - Free Report) , Netflix, Inc. (NFLX - Free Report) , Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Free Report) and Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) declined by more than 1%.

Overall, the S&P 500 posted 49 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 367 new highs and three new lows.

Initial Claims Hits Highest Level Since Last August

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims for the week ending Jan 9 came in at 965,000, an increase of 181,000 from the previous week's revised level. The figures beat the consensus estimate of 787,000 new claims and the 4-week moving average was 834,250, an increase of 18,250 from 816,000. The reported weeks’ jobless benefits soared to the highest since the week of Aug 22, when just over 1 million claims were filed.

Much of the job loss was due to business closures and restrictions issued by the government to combat the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic in winter. Continuing claims also kept rising higher, adding 199,000 to reach 5.27 million. The rise in claims continued to baffle investors and raise concerns over the economy’s health and economic growth stalling at the beginning of 2021.

Traders focused on President-elect Joe Biden’s announcement of coronavirus relief plan on Thursday evening. The prospects of the bill are cash payments to American households, funds for distributing COVID-19 vaccines, and aid for states and local authorities.

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