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The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high on Thursday, bolstered by an upbeat weekly jobless claims report, while vaccine makers dipped after U.S. President Joe Biden backed plans to waive patents on COVID-19 shots.

The Canadian benchmark index ended with a modest loss, weighed down by a slide in shares of Shopify as well as some other recent high-fliers.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index lost 19.76 points, or 0.10%, at 19,290.98. The tech sector lost 1.61% as Shopify sank 3.75%. Traders also took profits in a number of stocks that have been performing well of late, including AutoCanada, which lost 6%, and several names in the cannabis sector - including Tilray, which fell 11.31%.

Offsetting these losses were strong gains in the materials sector, which rose 1.86% in the session. Several stocks involved in both precious metals and copper mining rallied more than 5%.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose after a Labor Department report showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 498,000 for the week ended May 1, compared with 590,000 in the prior week.

Investors were awaiting a more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report on Friday for clues on the strength of the labor market and potentially the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stance on monetary policy.

“Investors are encouraged by the low-interest rates and the stimulus that the government is putting into the economy. We’re also seeing substantial increases in economic projections and earnings forecasts,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

Pharmaceutical companies dropped after the White House said Biden made the decision to back a proposed waiver for COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property rights.

Shares in Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc fell 1% or more. Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc ended higher after spending much of the day in negative territory.

The Nasdaq biotechnology index dropped 0.4%.

Moderna’s shares cut some losses after it said countries around the globe would continue buying its COVID-19 vaccine for years even if patents on the shots are waived.

The S&P 500 financials index was the top performer among the 11 sectors, gaining 1.4%.

“One sector we are seeing a lot of opportunities in is the financial sector. We see it as one that should benefit from higher interest rates and a stronger economic recovery,” said Ann Guntli, portfolio manager at Chicago-based RMB Capital.

Microsoft Corp, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.com Inc rose more than 1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.93% to end at 34,548.53 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.82% to 4,201.62.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.37% to 13,632.84.

In extended trade, Square rose 3% after the mobile payments company announced a 266% jump in quarterly total net revenue.

During the trading session, Costco Wholesale jumped 2.75% after the retailer said late on Wednesday that its April sales surged 33.5%. That rally helped push the S&P 500 consumers staple index higher.

Uber Technologies Inc tumbled 8.85% after it signaled it would pay drivers more to get cars back on the road as the pandemic recedes, and disclosed a $600 million charge to provide UK drivers with benefits.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.33-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.38-to-1 ratio favored decliners. The S&P 500 posted 121 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 118 new highs and 155 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11 billion shares, compared with the 10 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

The June crude contract was down 92 cents at US$64.71 per barrel and the June natural gas contract was down one cent at US$2.93 per mmBTU.

The June gold contract was up US$31.40 at US$1,815.70 an ounce and the July copper contract was up 7.85 cents at US$4.60 a pound.

Read more: Stocks that saw action on Thursday - and why

Reuters, Globe staff

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