US Stock Market Overview – Stocks Edge Higher Ahead of Jobs Report

Jobless claims fall more than expected
David Becker

US stocks moved higher on Thursday, after fluctuating between positive and negative territory for most of the trading session. Most sectors were higher led by materials which rallied 0.9%. Energy shares bucked the trend. The VIX volatility index decline by another 1.5% on Thursday, ahead of Friday’s jobs report which is scheduled to be released at 8:30 AM ET. Expectations are for non-farm payrolls to rise by 175,000 jobs. There has been a divergence in economic data this week. While the ISM manufacturing and services reports came in weaker than expected, the job components in the service sector and claims remain very robust. Jobless claims on Thursday unexpected declined by 10,000, moving back to an 8-month low. Factory order also came in stronger than expected.


Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Declined

US jobless claims dropped 10,000 to 203,000 for the week ended November 30, the lowest level since mid-April, according to the US Labor Department. Data for the prior week was unrevised. The expectation had been for claims to rise to 215,000 in the latest week. Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 51,000 to 1.69 million for the week ended November 23. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims was unchanged at 1.68 million.

Factory Orders Rise More than Expected

The commerce department reported on Thursday that Factory orders rose 0.3% in October. This is the first gain in three months. Orders in September were revised to a 0.8% drop compared with the previous estimate of a 0.6% fall. Expectation were for a 0.2% rise. Durable goods orders rose a revised 0.5%, down slightly from last week’s initial estimate of a 0.6% rise. Orders for nondurable goods were flat in the month.

Zoom Shares Tumble

After the closing bell Zoom the teleconference software company reported earnings that beat on the top and bottom line but the shares tumbled after the company issued fiscal third-quarter earnings that revealed slowing growth. Earnings were 9 cents per share, versus 3 cents per share expected. Revenue came in at $166.6 million, versus expectation of $154.9 million. Zoom’s revenue increased 85% on an annualized basis in the third quarter of the company’s 2020 fiscal year.

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