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Market Snapshot: Dow aims for longest win streak since March ahead of April jobs report

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average is set to add to its record ride Friday, as investors brace for a monthly report on conditions in the U.S. labor market with the economy recovering from the COVID pandemic.

How are stock benchmarks performing?

On Thursday, the Dow
DJIA,
+0.93%

added 318.19 points to reach a record close of 34,548.53; a gain of 0.9%, the S&P 500
SPX,
+0.82%

moved up 34.03 points, or 0.8%, at 4,201.62; while the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
+0.37%

traded up 50.42 points, or 0.4%, to 13,632.84, ending a streak of four straight losses.

What’s driving the market?

Economists are forecasting that the U.S. added one million new jobs in April, when the U.S. Labor Department publishes its nonfarm payrolls report at 8.30 a.m. Friday, according to a survey by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal. A survey of economists from Econoday shows that consensus estimates range from a gain of 755,000 to 1.25 million.

Even more bullish, Aneta Markowska and Thomas Simons at Jefferies LLC are predicting that net job gains last month could hit 2.1 million, which would mark the fastest growth since June of 2020. The analysts are also bracing for a rapid clip of job growth this year averaging about one million a month.

The Jefferies economists said make the case that increases in restaurant bookings using services like OpenTable is consistent with a surge of 1.2 million in leisure and hospitality employment alone.

“In fact, the increase in bookings over the past two months is reminiscent of last
May/June when L&H employment rose even more sharply,” the analysts wrote in a research report dated April 30.

The report would come after weekly initial unemployment benefit claims in the U.S. fell to 498,000 for first time in pandemic era in data published Thursday.

Stock price gains in recent trade have largely been driven by evidence of improvement in the economy and by good figures from American corporations reporting first-quarter earnings.

However, concerns about rising inflation are also brewing and weighing on investor sentiment, with stock valuations already considered lofty.

Shares of a number of technology companies, in particular, have taken it on the chin after prospering during the lockdown protocols in place last year to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Investors have been shifting their investments into assets seen as performing better during the economic recovery, including energy, financials, industrials, materials and transportation stocks.

Meanwhile, the healthcare sector remains in focus after President Joe Biden’s administration has advocated for waiving intellectual property rights to potentially enable companies in developing countries to manufacture their own COVID vaccines. Companies like Pfizer,
PFE,
-0.99%

AstraZeneca
AZN,
-0.32%
,
BioNTech 
BNTX,
-1.62%

 Johnson & Johnson
JNJ,
+0.40%

 and Moderna
MRNA,
-1.44%

have seen their stocks fall as a result this week.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE also said Friday they have initiated submission of a Biologics License Application (BLA) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for full approval of their COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 16 years of age and older.

In public health news, the global tally for the coronavirus-borne illness rose above 156 million on Friday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while the death toll rose above 3.25 million. India, meanwhile, remains second to the U.S. by cases at 21.5 million and third by fatalities at 234,083. India added a record of 414,000 new cases in a 24-hour period, a fresh global record, and almost 4,000 deaths, according to its health ministry. 

Which companies are in focus?
  • Shares of Cigna CorpCI gained 0.5% in premarket trading Friday, after the health services company reported first-quarter profit and revenue that rose above expectations, as total customer relationships grew 14% and pharmacy customers increased 28%. 
  • USA Today parent Gannett Co. Inc. GCI reported Friday a wider net loss on revenue that fell more than some analysts expected, citing negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as “general trends” hurting the publishing industry. 
  • Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc. SPB posted stronger-than-expected earnings for its fiscal third quarter Friday, and raised its fiscal 2021 guidance. 

: Europe divided on merits of patent waivers for COVID-19 vaccines

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