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US Stock Market Overview – Stocks Continue to Rally Led by Consumer Staples

Jobless claims decline less than expected
David Becker

US stocks moved higher on Thursday with the S&P 500 index hit fresh all-time highs rising above 3,200 for the first time. The Nasdaq was the best performing of the major stock indices, rising 0.67%. Most sectors were higher, led by consumer staples, which increased by 1.13%, consumer cyclicals bucked the trend. Jobless claims declined by less than expected. After the closing bell the House of Representatives announced that there were enough votes to pass the USMCA which is the replacement for NAFTA. Nike earnings came out after the bell. While the company beat on the top line their guidance was worse than expected to put downward pressure on the stock price.

Jobless Claims Decline Less than Expected

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that jobless claims decreased 18,000 to 234,000 for the week ended December 14. Despite the large decline the drop did not unwind the prior week’s jump of 49,000. The prior week’s surge, which boosted claims to 252,000, which was the highest reading since September 2017,  probably reflected a late Thanksgiving Day. Expectations were for claims to fall to 225,000 in the latest week.

Leading Economic Index was Flat

The conference board on Thursday reported that the Leading Economic Index was unchanged in November. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators designed to signal business-cycle peaks and valleys. The unchanged reading broke a streak of 3-consecutive month that the LEI declined.

The Bank of England Keeps Rates Unchanged

The Bank of England warned of mounting weakness in the British economy as it kept interest rates on hold despite two members of its monetary policy committee voting for an immediate cut. Sounding the alarm that economic growth would come close to unchanged in the Q4, the Bank’s monetary policy committee voted 7-2 to keep the official interest rate on hold at 0.75%.

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