Wall Street Tumbles as Tech Stocks Give Up Gains

  • Stocks on Wall Street were sharply lower Thursday, with shares of large technology companies weighing the market down. The S&P 500 fell 1.75 percent, while the Nasdaq composite slid 2 percent.

  • The decline is the fourth retreat in five trading sessions for the S&P 500. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 had rebounded from the recent wave of selling with a gain of 2 percent.

  • Oil prices also fell Thursday, and energy stocks were sharply lower. Halliburton, Hess and Devon Energy were among the worst performing stocks in the S&P 500.

  • Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google’s parent Alphabet were all lower, after giving up early gains.

  • Senate Republicans on Thursday failed to advance their substantially scaled-back stimulus plan amid opposition by Democrats who called the measure inadequate, underscoring the rapidly dwindling chances that Congress will enact another economic recovery measure to address the toll of the pandemic before November’s elections.

  • More than 857,000 workers in the United States filed for state unemployment benefits last week, before seasonal adjustments, the Labor Department reported. The number of weekly claims has come down substantially from late March and April, but the figure remains extraordinarily high by historical standards.

  • On Thursday, policymakers at the European Central Bank concluded their monthly two-day meeting, without making any changes to their stimulus program or interest rates.

Initial weekly unemployment claims, both regular claims and those under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program

By Ella Koeze·Pandemic Unemployment Assistance extends eligibility to some workers who would not otherwise be able to apply for unemployment benefits, such as part-time and self-employed workers. Neither regular claims nor P.U.A. claims are seasonally adjusted.·Source: Labor Department

More than four months after Americans began emerging from the coronavirus-caused lockdown across most states, the job market remains treacherous, according to new data from the Labor Department.

More than 857,000 workers filed new claims for state unemployment insurance last week, before seasonal adjustments, a slight increase from the previous week. Although the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.4 percent, the level of layoffs reflects the challenges for many workers in the fitful recovery.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the total was 884,000, unchanged from the revised figure for the previous week.

In addition, about 839,000 new claims were filed under a federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides assistance to freelancers, part-time workers and others who do not ordinarily qualify for state benefits. That figure, which is not seasonally adjusted, represented a rise from 748,000 the previous week.

“It’s a gut punch to see these numbers every Thursday with no improvement,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton in Chicago. “The numbers are going in the wrong direction.”

Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays, said the latest numbers “are part of a transition to a slower pace of recovery, and one that will be more uneven.”

All told, nearly 30 million people were receiving unemployment benefits in some form in the week that ended Aug. 22.

A wild card in the outlook is congressional standoff over another coronavirus relief package. House Democrats have passed a $3 trillion bill that would restore a $600 weekly unemployment benefit supplement that expired in July. A much smaller Republican package reviving the supplement at $300 a week failed to advance in a Senate vote on Thursday.

President Trump ordered a stopgap $300-a-week replacement last month through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but it has been slow to get off the ground and has funds for only a few weeks.

Eighteen states have begun making the payments, said Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. “It would have been so much easier and faster if Congress would have passed an extension,” she said.

Credit…Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

A federal program that didn’t exist six months ago now provides benefits to roughly 15 million jobless workers, more than the number collecting traditional state unemployment benefits. And with the ballooning number of recipients — particularly in California — have come questions about potential fraud.

An official in Sacramento said that the state suspected that much of the recent increase in claims was a…

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