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James Hyerczyk
S&P 500

The major U.S. stock indexes plunged on Thursday as investors continued to shed high-flying tech shares due to mixed earnings reports and growing signs of a worsening coronavirus pandemic, which could drive the economy into a deep recession. The price action also suggests that investors continued to dump overpriced tech stocks, while rotating into undervalued cyclical stocks.

In the cash market on Thursday, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 3235.66, down 40.36 or -1.34%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 26652.33, down 353.51 or -1.41% and the technology-based NASDAQ Composite closed at 10461.42, down 244.71 or -2.58%.

Stock Index Recap

The bellwether S&P 500 snapped a four-day winning streak with its biggest daily percentage drop in nearly four weeks. All three major U.S. stock averages lost ground. The S&P 500 Index, the Dow and the NASDAQ Composite were mostly dragged down by shared components Apple and Microsoft Corp. Heavyweight Amazon.com was also a major drag on the tech-driven NASDAQ.

The Russell 2000 and the S&P Smallcap 600, both small cap indexes, outperformed the broader market.

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Earnings Update

Second-quarter reporting season is in full-stride, with 113 S&P 500 constituents having reported. Refinitiv data shows that 77% of those have beaten expectations that were extraordinarily low. Analysts now see aggregate second-quarter S&P earnings plummeting by 40.8%, year-on-year, per Refinitiv, Reuters reported.

Microsoft Corp shares fell after reporting its cloud computing business Azure reported its first-ever quarterly growth under 50%.

Tesla Inc reported a profit for the fourth straight quarter, setting the company up for inclusion in the S&P 500. But the stock slid as analysts questioned whether the electric automaker’s stock price matched its performance.

Twitter Inc advanced after reporting its highest-ever annual growth of daily users.

American Airlines Group Inc jumped after announcing it would rethink the number of flights to add in August and September. Also, it reported an adjusted loss per share of $7.82.

Southwest Airlines said Thursday it lost $915 million in the second quarter compared with $741 million in net income a year earlier and warned that travel demand will likely remain depressed until there’s a vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus.

Economic Data and Fiscal Stimulus Bill Update

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week as the coronavirus pandemic inflicted more damage to the U.S. economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday initial jobless claims came in at 1.416 million for the week-ending July 18. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected 1.3 million.

It was the 18th straight week in which initial claims totaled more than 1 million, and it snapped a 15-week streak of declining initial claims.

The number excludes recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, set to expire on July 31.

Meanwhile, Congress kept working to pass new stimulus before that deadline continued, with Senate Republicans announcing they could present their version of the bill to Democrats as early as this week.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

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