U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as Amazon.com Inc and Netflix Inc surged to record highs, although trading was choppy as investors worried about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on first-quarter earnings.
Amazon.com rose 4.4% and Netflix climbed 2.9% as sweeping stay-at-home orders drove demand for online streaming services and home delivery of goods. The shutdown in New York was extended until May 15, even as coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths fell to their lowest in more than a week, adding to evidence that the hardest-hit state was controlling the virus' spread.
Still, the impact of the health crisis on the economy and companies kept investors on edge. First-quarter earnings kicked off this week, with U.S. banks preparing for a wave of future loan defaults following a halt in business activity. Analysts estimate earnings for S&P 500 companies slumped 12.8% in the quarter, which would be the biggest year-over-year quarterly decline since the financial crisis.
"We're not going to see a V-shaped recovery, and I think investors will eventually realize that, so it's premature to call a bottom in stocks at this stage," said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc., an investment advisory firm based in Toledo, Ohio.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 33.33 points, or 0.14%, to 23,537.68, the S&P 500 gained 16.19 points, or 0.58%, to 2,799.55 and the Nasdaq Composite added 139.19 points, or 1.66%, to 8,532.36.
Data showed jobless claims fell slightly to 5.2 million last week from an upwardly revised 6.62 million the previous week. But the total figure for the past month still topped a stunning 20 million.
Economists polled by Reuters had estimated 5.1 million jobless claims for the week ended April 11. Morgan Stanley wrapped up earnings for the big U.S. lenders, reporting a plunge in quarterly profit as its advisory and wealth management businesses took a hit from the economic fallout of the pandemic. Its shares ended down slightly.
Shares of Boeing Co fell 8%, limiting gains in the Dow, as its European rival Airbus said it was examining requests to defer deliveries after a collapse in travel demand. Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.62 billion shares, compared to the 13.94 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.59-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.23-to-1 ratio favored decliners. The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 44 new highs and 62 new lows.