A decline in global stocks spread to Wall Street on Thursday with disappointing data on America’s labour market adding to uncertainty over the Federal Reserve’s willingness to deploy new policy measures.
The S&P 500 opened 0.5 per cent lower, following a fall in the previous session as the main US stocks barometer edges further back from an all-time high it set earlier this week.
The price of US government debt also gained, sending yields lower, after data released on Thursday underscored the persistent weakness in the labour market even as other sectors such as house construction have begun to recover from the shock caused by coronavirus.
More than 1.1m Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits last week, higher than economists had forecast. The rise in claims from 971,000 the previous week reversed a two-week trend of improvement.
“The claims data this week are disappointing, following two weeks where the data had shown such impressive downside momentum,” said Thomas Simons, economist at Jefferies. ”
Meanwhile, a survey of manufacturers by the Philadelphia Fed suggested the recovery in the regional factory sector eased this month, echoing the findings of a similar report by the New York Fed published on Monday.