Thursday 22 July 2021 3:42 pm

US stocks open flat on weak jobless claims

US stocks opened broadly flat on Thursday morning after fresh data showed the American labour market recovery may be stalling.

The blue-chip S&P 500 inched down 0.01 per cent during the open, while the Nasdaq crept up 0.23 per cent.

The Dow Jones slipped 0.17 per cent.

The lack of movement on the US’ main benchmarks is likely being driven by investors waiting to see whether weak jobless claims data is an isolated case or an indication of more long-term structural damage to the labour market.

New claims for unemployment benefits increased by 51,000 in the week ended 17 July.

“One data point isn’t a trend, and a one-off can probably be chalked up to Delta variant concerns. If jobs data doesn’t inflect soon, the markets and the Fed will be put on notice” said Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth.

Yields on ten-year Treasuries rose slightly to 1.27 per cent.

FTSE 100 inches below 7,000 again

London’s FTSE 100 fell below the 7,000 mark again on Thursday afternoon to reverse gains registered in morning trading.

The capital’s premier index dipped 0.56 per cent to 6,959 during the afternoon session.

The fall builds on sharp losses at the beginning of the week as concerns that the Delta variant of Covid could hamper the global economic continued to bite.

Read more: US stocks rise on strong quarterly earnings

Investors were also digesting news that the European Central Bank held interest rates at record lows in a bid to reach its two per cent inflation target.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “In recent months there has been some underlying grumbling amongst Northern European countries about the pace of asset purchases and an insistence they must end by March 2022.”

“With virus cases rising again and some parts of the European economy uniquely vulnerable to rising infection rates it seems highly unlikely that the ECB will ever be in a position to withdraw support at a time when economic activity remains far from returning to normal.”

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 fared better jumping 0.88 per cent, while AIM shares soared 1.26 per cent during the afternoon session.

The pound gained 0.41 per cent against the greenback to buy $1.37.

Winners and losers

Bookmaker Flutter Entertainment was the day’s biggest winner so far, rising 4.67 per cent.

Takeaway delivery firm Just Eat came second, partly reversing a string of poor trading days for the company, gaining 3.87 per cent.

Private equity firm 3i came third, up 3.71 per cent.

Consumer goods manufacturer Unilever was the afternoon’s worst performer, sliding 5.83 per cent after it said higher commodity prices have eaten into its margins.

Housebuilder Persimmon was the second worst performer, losing 3.79 per cent.

NatWest lost 2.71 per cent after the UK government announced it will sell more of its stake in the bank over the course of the next year.

Around the world

Asian shares posted a strong performance over night, with all the region’s main indexes up.

Japan’s Nikkei added 0.58 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.67 per cent and China’s CSI 300 gained 0.15 per cent.

European shares built on yesterday’s gains – the Stoxx 600 was up 0.43 per cent in the afternoon session.

Read more: Unilever hit by rising commodity prices despite positive sales growth