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US STOCKS-Dow closes at record high after upbeat jobless claims report

Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high on Thursday, bolstered by an upbeat weekly jobless claims report, while shares of vaccine makers dipped after U.S. President Joe Biden backed plans to waive patents on COVID-19 shots.

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Krystal Hu

May 6 (Reuters) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJIclosed at a record high on Thursday, bolstered by an upbeat weekly jobless claims report, while shares of vaccine makers dipped after U.S. President Joe Biden backed plans to waive patents on COVID-19 shots.

Lifted by Apple Inc AAPL.O, the S&P 500 rose after a Labor Department report showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 498,000 for the week ended May 1, compared with 590,000 in the prior week.

Investors were awaiting a more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report on Friday for clues on the strength of the labor market and potentially the U.S. Federal Reserve's stance on monetary policy.

"Investors are encouraged by the low-interest rates and the stimulus that the government is putting into the economy. We're also seeing substantial increases in economic projections and earnings forecasts," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

Pharmaceutical companies dropped after the White House said Biden made the decision to back a proposed waiver for COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights.

Shares in Pfizer Inc PFE.N, Moderna Inc MRNA.O and Novavax Inc NVAX.O, all involved in the making of COVID-19 vaccines, fell. Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N was near unchanged.

The S&P 500 healthcare sector index .SPXHCslipped, while the Nasdaq biotechnology index <.NBI> also dropped.

Moderna's shares cut some losses after it said countries around the globe would continue buying its COVID-19 vaccine for years even if patents on the shots are waived.

The S&P 500 financials index .SPSY was among the top performers.

"One sector we are seeing a lot of opportunities in is the financial sector. We see it as one that should benefit from higher interest rates and a stronger economic recovery," said Ann Guntli, portfolio manager at Chicago-based RMB Capital.

Microsoft Corp MSFT.O, Apple AAPL.O and Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O> were up under 1% for most of the session.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.92% to end at 34,545.11 points, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.82% to 4,201.58.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC climbed 0.37% to 13,632.84.

Costco Wholesale COST.Ojumped after the retailer said late on Wednesday that its April sales surged 33.5%. That rally helped push the S&P 500 consumers staple index higher.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc REGN.Orose after the drugmaker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and said it expected demand for its COVID-19 antibody therapy to hold up.

Uber Technologies Inc UBER.Ntumbled after it signaled it would pay drivers more to get cars back on the road as the pandemic recedes, and disclosed a $600 million charge to provide UK drivers with benefits.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, and by Krystal Hu in New York; Additional reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru and Noel Randewich in Oakland, Calif.; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis)

((noel.randewich@tr.com; (415) 677 2542, Twitter: @randewich))

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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