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David Becker

U.S. stocks moved lower on Thursday. Sectors in the S&P 500 index were mixed, led by gains in Energy, the interest-rate sensitive utility sector underperformed. Rates moved higher and the dollar was flat along with gold. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to unveil details on his proposed spending package to support the U.S. economy. Many investors are counting on additional stimulus to help make ends meet, given the pandemic’s damaging impact. Unemployment claims an unexpected rose. Blackrock delivered better than expected financial results, ahead of Friday’s bank earning release deluge. Jerome Powell was on the tape today, saying he won’t raise rates to combat higher grain and energy prices.

Unemployment Claims Unexpected Rose

According to the Labor Department, U.S. jobless claims rose by 181,000 to 965,000 last week. That was the most significant weekly increase since March 2020 and put initial jobless claims at their highest level since mid-August. It also put weekly claims well above the roughly 800,000 a week they have averaged in recent months. Additionally, continuing claims rose to nearly 5.3 million for the week ended January 2, from 5.1 million a week earlier. That marked the first weekly increase since November.

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Blackrock Delivers on Top and Bottom Line

BlackRock’s financial results showed profits rose 19% as investors turned to the money-management giant’s funds through election uncertainty. The investment company posted Q4 profit of $1.5 billion, or $10.02 a share, up from $1.3 billion, or $8.29 a share, a year earlier. BlackRock’s revenue rose 13% to about $4.5 billion in Q4.

Powell Takes Dovish Tone

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell affirmed his commitment to keeping interest rates low. Powell said the Fed is nowhere near a point where they could consider raising interest rates. During the discussion, Powell spoke about how the Fed handled the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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