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Stocks - Tech Stocks Help Wall Street Edge Higher

·3-min read

By Geoffrey Smith and Kim Khan -- The broader market was slightly higher in morning trading Thursday, helped by some solid gains in tech stocks.

By 11:30 AM ET (1530 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 98 points or 0.4%. The S&P 500 was up 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.5%. All three had fallen heavily on Wednesday in response to figures that showed acute drops in retail sales and industrial production in March.

Another gain from (NASDAQ:AMZN), up 5%, helped the tech sector, while Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) rose 4.9%.

That countered some of the pessimism caused by another huge jump in weekly jobless claims.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said earlier that 5.245 million Americans filed initial claims for jobless benefits last week, down from the previous week's 6.62 million. The number of continuing claims came in comfortably below economists' forecasts at 11.98 million. States such as California and New York, which went into lockdown earlier, showed declines in new claims.

Additionally, fresh figures showed the housing market starting to buckle under the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Housing starts in March fell 22% to their lowest since August, a figure that Oxford Economics analyst Greg Daco said was "the tip of the iceberg."

"Starts and permits will likely plunge in April," Daco said via Twitter.

However, the market is gradually getting accustomed to data that would have been unimaginable only weeks ago.

Among individual stocks, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) rose 0.3% after it agreed to buy BlueJeans Network, a maker of video conferencing software and rival to Zoom Video. Zoom has surged in the last few weeks, riding a wave of new users working from home. Zoom (NASDAQ:ZM) stock was slightly higher after an endorsement from Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison, who called it an "essential service" on Wednesday.

Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) stock rose another 16.4%, extending gains after its impressive quarterly update earlier in the week.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) stock fell 3% after it announced further cuts to its capital spending for this year and revised down its production estimate by 225,000 barrels a day – the latest in a series of market-driven output cuts by producers who are hurting from 18-year lows in crude prices. U.S. crude prices managed to stay just above the $20 a barrel mark on Thursday.

Elsewhere, gold mining giant Newmont Goldcorp (NYSE:NEM) rose another 2% to an eight-year high after saying that gold could hit $2,000 an ounce as a result of government efforts to reflate the world economy.

Earlier, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) had rounded off the bank earnings season with a 32% drop in profit and a warning of more pain to come. Morgan Stanley stock was down 0.3%.

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