It’s Thursday again, which means another round of increasingly bleak initial jobless claims, but that wasn’t enough to send the broader equity benchmarks to large losses on the day.
- The S&P 500 rose 1.15%.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.60%
- The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.91%
- A day after being the Dow’s worst performer, American Express (NYSE:AXP) was the leader in the blue chip index, gaining 7.34%.
Today’s jobless data showed 2.98 million claims filed last week, bringing the total since the start of the novel coronavirus crisis to a staggering 36.5 million. Continuing claims — folks displaced from their jobs for multiple weeks — hit 22.8 million.
It’s hard to find bright spots in dismal data like that, but there’s one: the number of claims in California, the largest state economy, dramatically declined last week. That’s a step in the right direction.
Speaking of steps in the right direction, modest reopenings continue in the Golden State and news emerged today that New Jersey beaches will be open for Memorial Day weekend.
Those aren’t market-moving tidbits, but the more of that news we hear, the better investors are likely to feel. Still, 21 of 30 Dow components were higher in late trading.
Cisco Gains On Earnings Beat
When investors think of technology stocks powering the Dow and the market this year, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) usually isn’t the first name they mention, but give the lagging network-gear-maker some credit. It was the second-best Dow stock today after reporting better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings after the close Wednesday.
Cisco earned 79 cents a share on revenue of $11.98 billion, beating analyst expectations of 71 cents in earnings per share on sales of $11.88 billion.
More Good Pharma News
These days, it feels like whenever a pharmaceuticals stock rallies, it’s on news related to a Covid-19 treatment or vaccine. But today Merck (NYSE:MRK) rallied for another reason: the company’s cancer treatment drug Keytruda bested rival treatment Adcetris in a Phase 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma trial.
Included in the results are some positive signs regarding Keytruda’s applications in possibly treating early-stage non-small-cell lung carcinoma.
Oil News Was Actually Positive
Just a few weeks ago, it would have seemed impossible to put “oil” and “good news” in the same sentence, but here we are, discussing gains for Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) on a day jobless claims spiked.
With economies starting to reopen and folks anxious to get out of their houses, crude demand is starting to bounce back as more drivers hit the roads. In the futures market, there are indicatiors that rebound is sustainable as further out contracts have begun sporting higher prices than where spot oil resides at today. That’s the scenario known as contango.
Adding to the case for the likes of Exxon and Chevron was a note from Goldman Sachs out earlier today saying the worst is over for the oil market.
Bottom Line on the Dow Jones Today
Don’t make too much of the Cisco earnings report, but don’t discount it, either. After all, it was the first big tech company to deliver an earnings report covering the month of April, a period in which the U.S. economy contracted.
That’s one green shoot and another is the aforementioned Goldman Sachs commentary on oil. Not only the did bank say the worst is behind oil prices, it raised its demand forecast for this month. If more states reopen in the coming days or, at the very least, sign off on allowing revelers to visit attractions, beaches, etc. over Memorial Day, that demand outlook could brighten further.
Todd Shriber has been an InvestorPlace contributor since 2014. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.