Dow climbs 500 points as coronavirus stimulus bill offsets dismal jobless claims report

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas JacksonReuters

  • US stocks pared losses early Thursday as investors shrugged off a huge number of  weekly jobless claims spurred by coronavirus-induced layoffs. 
  • Investor optimism continued to gain build around the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed by the Senate late Wednesday.
  • The bill includes unemployment benefit expansions, help for businesses, and payments for Americans to help bolster the US economy amid fallout due to the coronavirus.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

US stocks gained Thursday, continuing gains from Wednesday, after a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed was passed by the Senate.

Optimism around the package offset a dismal record US weekly jobless claims report that showed a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 21. That figure exceeded economist expectations and provided a jarring sign of just how big of an impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on the US economy.

Here’s where the major US indexes stood shortly after the market open at 9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday:

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“The information is worrying,” Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors told Business Insider in an email. “The further unemployment rises, the deeper the economic downturn will be and the longer it will last as productive capacity is eroded,” she said. 

Now, investors will be carefully watching policymakers as the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package makes its way to the House for a vote before being sent to President Trump’s deck. 

“Clearly, the stimulus package that the Senate has passed and the House is about to take up is what is required to begin providing help to this economy that is dealing with an unprecedented drop in consumer demand and is now being exacerbated by a huge spike in unemployment,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for the Independent Advisor Alliance told Business Insider in an email. 

But there is some concern that the stimulus package could fall short of expectations, and more aid may be required to keep the US economy afloat as the number of cases of COVID-19 continue to climb. 

“Until we get a clear assessment of the damage to the economy and earnings, it’s difficult to make rational investment decisions,” Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM said. “That’s why the most critical factor in this crisis is still when the peak in infections becomes evident and the pandemic ends.” 

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