S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite hit records as unemployment hits new pandemic low

Sept. 2 (UPI) — The S&P 500 and Nasdaq reached record highs on Thursday as U.S. jobless claims hit their lowest levels since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The broad S&P climbed 0.28% to a record 4,536.95, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.094% to 15,331.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 131.29 points, or 0.37%.

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The Labor Department on Thursday reported that 340,000 U.S. workers have filed new unemployment claims the lowest for any single week since March 14, 2020, when there were 256,000 new filings.

Thursday’s job data comes after a report by ADP and Moody’s Wednesday that the U.S. economy added 374,000 private jobs during the month of August, well below analysts’ estimates of 600,000.

“The private payrolls numbers have been all over the map during the pandemic,” Mike Loewengart, managing director of investor strategy at E-Trade Financial, said according to Yahoo Finance. “But with so much pressure on improvement on the labor market front coming from the Fed, this could send a signal that jobs growth is stagnating. That’s likely a good thing for the markets, though, as it means easy money policy continues.”

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Members of the Federal Open Market Committee signaled they will closely watch labor market data to determine when to begin tapering their COVID-19 asset purchase programs.

Friday’s August employment report will be the final piece of monthly data the Fed receives before its next policy-setting meeting at the end of the month.

Five Below stock fell 13%, while shares of Chewy dropped 9.32% after reporting their second quarter results.