Investing.com — U.S. stock markets inched higher on Thursday as a stronger-than-expected set of jobless claims numbers for last week failed to ignite any meaningful increase in risk appetite.
Earlier, the Labor Department had reported that initial claims for unemployment benefits had fallen to their lowest level since March at only 1.18 million. The number of continuing claims also undershot expectations.
However, analysts pointed out that the total number of people claiming benefits, which include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, actually rose by nearly half a million to 31.31 million. With nearly 13 million people on the PUA program, there is considerable fear that the interruption in benefits caused by lawmakers’ haggling over how to extend them in the future will lead to a real drop in household consumption and another new wave of layoffs.
The market also failed to react markedly by comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told CNBC that he still expected a deal over the relief package in the near future because both sides agree that “the economy needs a lift.”
Among individual companies, Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) stock fell 16.6% after the hard drive maker gave disappointing guidance for the rest of the year, while video streaming device maker Roku ‘s (NASDAQ:ROKU) stock likewise fell 6.1% after it warned that advertising spending on its platform could take over a year to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
Website maker Wix.Com (NASDAQ:WIX) stock also fell 10% after swinging to a loss in the second quarter, as it spent more heavily to meet the challenges of fast-growing demand.
Among the gainers, Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) stock rose 14.5% after the fuel cell maker said its net loss more than halved from a year ago in the second quarter. It also upheld its guidance on deliveries and revenue for the full year. The stock has returned to favor in recent days, rising nearly 50% since the start of the month after a month of gentle declines. Volumes are still nowhere near where they were during the first leg of its rally back in June, however.
Elsewhere, gold mining companies were struggling to squeeze any more gains out of the yellow metal’s rally. Newmont Goldcorp (NYSE:NEM) stock rose 0.6%, while Barrick Gold (NYSE:GOLD) stock fell 0.3%, even as the metal surged 1.6% to a new record high over $2,060 an ounce.