Dow Falls as Virus Spread, Jobless Figure Weigh

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 fell slightly on Thursday as the market’s rally this month loses steam amid disappointing U.S. unemployment data and rising coronavirus cases.

The 30-stock index remained in the red 127.95 points to reach noon at 29,310.47.

The S&P 500 lost 5.4 points to 3,562.36.

The NASDAQ reversed course and gained 57.04 points to 11,858.64, as shares of major tech companies bucked the broader market’s negative trend. Netflix moved up 1%, and Amazon advanced 0.5%. Facebook, Alphabet and Apple posted slight gains.

Walgreens slid 2.4%, and UnitedHealth fell 1.8%. Utilities and real estate were the biggest laggards among S&P 500 sectors.

The U.S. Labor Department said that 742,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week of Nov. 14, topping a Dow Jones estimate of 710,000.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. coronavirus cases keeps rising, dampening the upbeat sentiment seen in the market earlier in November. An analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found that the seven-day average of daily new U.S. coronavirus infections is now at 161,165, up 26% from last week. In total, more than 11.5 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed.

This recent uptick in Covid-19 cases has prompted some parts of the country to retake stricter measures to curb the virus spread. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered schools to close for in-person learning “out of an abundance of caution.”

Thursday’s losses were kept in check, however, after the release of preliminary data showed University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate triggered a similar immune response among all adults.

Wall Street was coming off a downbeat session, with the Dow and S&P 500 each falling more than 1% on Wednesday and the NASDAQ pulling back by 0.8%.

Despite Wednesday’s struggle, Wall Street has still seen a strong November, boosted in large part by positive news around potential coronavirus vaccines. The S&P 500 has gained 9.1% month to date, while the small-cap Russell 2000 hit an intraday record high on Wednesday.

Prices for the 10-Year Treasury were higher, weighing yields to 0.85% from at Wednesday’s 0.87%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices dipped 33 cents to $41.49 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices lost $16.40 to $1,854.80.