NEW YORK (AFP) – Wall Street stocks finished a choppy session modestly lower on Thursday (Jan 14) as the market awaited details of President-elect Joe Biden’s stimulus package after digesting disappointing labour data.
Biden is set to unveil later on Thursday a proposal for a third major fiscal package in the wake of coronavirus restrictions imposed over the last 10 months.
The announcement comes as data showed applications for unemployment benefits rose sharply in the first week of 2021, with a surge of 181,000 – the biggest increase since the coronavirus pandemic began in March – bringing the total close to the one million level not seen since August.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 30,991.52, down 0.2 per cent.
The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.4 per cent to 3,795.54, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slid 0.1 per cent to 13,112.64.
Despite the employment data, the latest in a string of mixed or poor economic indicators, equity markets remain near all-time highs as investors look ahead to a better 2021 economy thanks to coronavirus vaccines.
Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell predicted the US could see a boost of “exuberant spending” after the pandemic, adding that he does not expect that development to lead to spiking inflation.
Among individual companies, Delta Air Lines jumped 2.5 per cent as it reported a US$12.4 billion (S$16.4 billion) loss for 2020 but predicted it would return to profitability later this year as demand returns.
Johnson & Johnson gained 1.8 per cent as it released favorable early-trial data for its coronavirus vaccine candidate, which only requires one vaccine.