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US stocks extended their torrid multiday rally on Thursday as investors turned increasingly bullish toward the prospect of a divided government. Healthcare and tech stocks fueled indexes' gains. A split government would be unlikely to further regulate and tax the industries as Democrats had hoped. New US weekly jobless claims came in at 751,000 for the week that ended on Saturday. The reading was above economists' expectations but still marked a decline from the prior week's revised total. Oil prices tumbled in volatile trading. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 2.3%, to $38.27 per barrel, before paring some losses. Watch major indexes update live here.
US equities continued to climb on Thursday as the dwindling prospects of a Democratic sweep lifted sectors prone to regulation. Tech and healthcare stocks helped fuel broad gains as investors increased bets on the industries. The chances of a blue-wave election outcome had fueled fears of increased industry scrutiny and tax hikes. But with Republicans poised to hold control of the Senate, Wall Street quickly turned around on the sectors. Tech names stand to rally another 10% to 15% by the end of the year if a split government materializes, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said Thursday, citing fading odds of regulation and improved US-China trade relations. Here's where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET market close on Thursday:
S&P 500: 3,510.45, up 2% Dow Jones industrial average: 28,390.18, up 2% (543 points) Nasdaq composite: 11,890.93, up 2.6%
Read more: From flipping burgers at McDonald's to a self-made multimillionaire: How Willie Mandrell leveraged a simple real-estate investing strategy to acquire 40 units and achieve financial freedom Uncertainty around the outcome of the US presidential election remained, though margins tightened across several battleground states. Former Vice President Joe Biden emerged victorious in Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday, while gaps narrowed in Arizona and Nevada. Pennsylvania's secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, said Thursday afternoon that the state could report the rest of its outstanding votes by the end of the day. Biden has steadily closed in on Trump's lead in the state. Should the Democratic candidate win Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, Biden will cross the 270 vote threshold and become the president-elect. The Thursday surge follows an equally robust upswing the session prior. The Dow gained 368 points and the Nasdaq leaped to its highest level since April on Wednesday as investors turned more bullish toward the prospect of a divided government. While it would be harder for a split Congress to pass a massive stimulus package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he aims to pass another relief bill before 2021. Read more: 3 veteran investors share where to invest now to build resilient, long-term portfolios that win even if the elections produce a gridlocked government US weekly jobless claims ticked lower once again while remaining above pre-pandemic levels. New claims for unemployment benefits totaled 751,000 for the week that ended Saturday, the Labor Department said. That came in above the median economist estimate of 735,000 but still marked a decline from the previous week's revised total. Continuing claims, which tracks the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits, fell to roughly 7.3 million for the week that ended on October 24. The reading was slightly above economists' expectations. Investors will get a clearer look at the labor market's recovery on Friday morning when the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes nonfarm payrolls data. Economists expect the US to have added 590,000 new jobs in October. Read more: 3 veteran investors share where to invest now to build resilient, long-term portfolios that win even if the elections produce a gridlocked government Following its two-day policy meeting, the Federal Reserve on Thursday elected to hold interest rates near zero and maintain the Fed's pace of asset purchases. The decision was largely expected by economists and market participants. "Given the impetus for additional fiscal spending from lawmakers has declined, the burden of keeping the economic recovery going is likely to weigh more on the Fed's shoulders," Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management, said in an emailed statement. General Motors leaped after strong truck and SUV sales in North America and China led its third-quarter profit to outperform estimates. Earnings per share of $2.83 nearly doubled Wall Street's expectation. Aurora Cannabis rallied as Biden's strengthening margins lifted hopes for federal decriminalization of marijuana. Other cannabis stocks gained in early trading. Bitcoin traded above $15,000 after breaching the $14,000 resistance level on Wednesday. Read more: Iconiq Capital, which counts some of the world's most influential families as clients, broke down the investment implications of the US election. Here are the highlights of its 23-page presentation. Spot gold jumped as much as 2.6%, to $1,952.79 per ounce, at intraday highs. The precious metal's climb placed it at its highest point since mid-September and pushed prices above their 50-day moving average. The US dollar continued to fall against major currency peers. Treasury yields were mostly unchanged. Oil prices tumbled after nearly turning even for the day. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 2.3%, to $38.27 per barrel, before rebounding. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, sank 2.2%, to $40.33 per barrel, at intraday lows. Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider: An advisor at the world's largest wealth manager breaks down why a Biden win and a split congress is the best long-term outcome for markets — and says investors should look to these 4 sub-sectors for ongoing gains Tech stocks are primed to surge another 15% as election results seem likely to ease regulation risk, Wedbush says Why the stock market is loving the prospect of a divided governmentJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why some Hong Kong skyscrapers have gaping holes
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