U.S. Stocks Close Sharply Higher Amid Record Jump In Oil Prices

(RTTNews) - Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Thursday before finish the day significantly higher. With the upward move on the day, the major averages partly offset the steep losses posted in the previous session.

The major averages moved to the upside going into the close, ending the day firmly in positive territory. The Dow surged up 469.93 points or 2.2 percent to 21,413.44, the Nasdaq jumped 126.73 points or 1.7 percent to 7,487.31 and the S&P 500 spiked 56.40 points or 2.3 percent to 2,526.90.

The higher close on Wall Street was due in large part to strength among energy stocks, which moved sharply higher along with the price of crude oil.

Crude for May delivery soared $5.01 to $25.32 a barrel, soaring by 24.7 percent for the biggest one-day percentage gain on record.

The jump in oil prices came after President Donald Trump expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia and Russia would resolve their price war within a "few days."

Trump also indicated he has invited oil executives to the White House to discuss ways to help the industry, saying, "We don't want to lose our great oil companies."

In a post on Twitter this morning, Trump said he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to agree to cut oil production by at least 10 million barrels per day.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the NYSE Arca Oil Index spiked by 9.1 percent, while the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index and the Philadelphia Oil Service Index surged up by 6.4 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively.

Substantial strength was also visible among gold stocks, as reflected by the 4.8 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index.

The rally by gold stocks came as the price the price of the precious metal also moved sharply higher, with gold for June delivery soaring $46.30 to $1,637.70 an ounce.

Semiconductor, biotechnology and utilities stocks also saw considerable strength, closing higher along with most of the other major sectors.

The strength that emerged on Wall Street comes even though the Labor Department released a report before the start of trading showing another spike in initial jobless claims in the week ended March 28th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims skyrocketed to 6.648 million, an increase of 3.341 million from the previous week's revised level of 3.307 million.

With another record-breaking increase, the number of seasonally adjusted initial claims reached the highest level in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.

In the past two weeks, nearly 10 million people have filed for unemployment, which economists say translates to an unemployment rate of about 10 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1.4 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 1.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside over the course of the session. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both rose by 0.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries ended the day little changed after pulling back off their early highs. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by less than a basis point to 0.627 percent.

Looking Ahead

The Labor Department is scheduled to release its usually closely watched monthly employment report on Friday, although the data may be seen as old news as the employment survey was conducted three weeks ago.

"The way the survey works, a person counts as employed if they were working when contacted by the BLS, even if they lost their job later in the month," Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial explained.

Economists currently expect the report to show employment fell by 100,000 jobs in March after jumping by 273,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate is expected to climb to 3.8 percent from 3.5 percent.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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