The S&P 500 began the second half of 2021 at a new all-time high on Thursday as data revealed fewer-than-expected weekly jobless claims, while energy stocks were supported by a spike in oil prices.
Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors rose, with energy (.SPNY), financials (.SPSY), industrials (.SPLRCI) and materials (.SPLRCM) leading the charge.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 51,000 to a seasonally adjusted 364,000 in the week ended June 26, while layoffs plunged to a 21-year low in June as companies held on to their workers amid labor shortages. Claims staying below the 400,000 psychological level could boost investors' confidence in risk-taking in the short term.
Separately, ISM data showed U.S. manufacturing activity grew at a moderate pace in June but employment contracted for the first time in seven months.
With the S&P 500 (.SPX) and the Nasdaq (.IXIC) hitting a series of record highs last month, investors are laser-focused on Friday's nonfarm payrolls report, where a strong reading could force the U.S. Federal Reserve to rethink its accommodative stance.
Focus also shifts to the second-quarter earnings season in the coming weeks to gauge whether the first-half momentum could continue further for the remaining year.
At 16:38 on Thursday in Lagos, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 82.70 points, or 0.24%, at 34,585.21 and the S&P 500 was up 11.28 points, or 0.26%, at 4,308.78. The Nasdaq Composite was down 39.56 points, or 0.27%, at 14,464.40.
The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 48 new highs and 19 new lows.