Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened lower on Thursday after data suggesting that the improvement in the U.S. labor market since April is running out of steam.
Earlier, the Labor Department had said that 1.3 million people filed initial claims for jobless benefits last week, vs 1.31 million in the previous week. Analysts had expected a drop of 60,000. The number of continuing claims fell by more than expected, but the data are linked not only to the pace of re-hiring, but also to the rate at which people stop looking for work.
The jobs data overshadowed the less timely news that retail sales had risen 7.5% in June, extending their rebound from a lockdown-driven collapse in April.
With the U.S. continuing to post more than 60,000 new cases of the Covid-19 virus every day, and with hospitalizations and death rates rising across the south and west of the country in particular, the jobless claims data stoked fears that another wave of economically restrictive measures may be necessary even before the first wave has been fully unwound.
The news hit cyclical stocks hardest, with cruise operators and airline stocks again demonstrating the fragility of sentiment towards that sector. Sentiment was hardly helped by news that American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) intends to furlough up to 25,000 staff when its federal aid expires at the end of September. American fell 6.4%.
Twitter stock was also heavily traded in the wake of an embarrassing hack that compromised the accounts of dozens of high-profile users from Barack Obama to Elon Musk. The stock also had to cope with news that Europe’s top court had outlawed the current system for data transfers between the EU and U.S. Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) still pared overnight losses to be down only 2.5%. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), also affected by the EU court’s decision, fell 1.4%.
On a busy morning for earnings, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) fell 2.8% after putting aside $4 billion in provisions against possible loan losses, while Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) fared better by virtue of its concentration on markets and investment banking. Morgan Stanley stock rose 1.7% after it – like Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) – reported a banner quarter for its traders.
Elsewhere, Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) rose 9.0% after it lured Michael Colglazier away from Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) to be its next CEO, while Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) fell 4.5% after a report suggesting that its sales in California fell by nearly half in the second quarter.