Wall Street's rally stalls amid discouraging rise in layoffs

 Stocks are stalling on Wall Street Thursday, undercut by a discouraging report showing that layoffs are picking up across the country with coronavirus counts.
The S&P 500 was 0.2 per cent lower in morning trading, easing off a rally that had sent it higher for four straight days. Other stock indexes around the world were mixed, while all the uncertainty dominating markets helped gold tick up again to its highest price in nearly nine years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 147 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 26,858, as of 11:05 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.3 per cent.

Despite the modest declines for the major US indexes, most stocks in the S&P 500 were higher, led by several that reported stronger profits for the spring than Wall Street expected.

The day's headline economic report was one that has taken on much more importance for markets through the pandemic: the weekly tally of workers filing for unemployment benefits. Last week, the total rose by 109,000 to a little more than 1.4 million.

It breaks a stretch of 15 straight weeks of improvements, a streak that had raised investor optimism that the recession could prove to be shorter than expected. It comes as coronavirus counts continue to rise across much of the Sun Belt, leading to more business closures.

On the opposite end, though, were several reports from major companies like Twitter and Whirlpool showing that their businesses held up better during the spring than Wall Street expected. Also buoying the market are hopes that Congress can agree on more aid for out-of-work Americans just as an extra USD 600 in weekly unemployment benefits is set to expire.
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