Marking a three-day streak, the Dow had gained 1,351 points at the closing bell, while the S&P 500 jumped 154.51 points, and the Nasdaq Composite spiked by 413.24 points. Stocks belonging to Boeing, American Express and Nike, which rose more than 8% during trading, largely drove the Dow’s more than 6% increase.
The DJIA's closing figure captured the index's biggest three-day surge since 1931 as it rose over 20%.
Elsewhere, Asian markets took a nosedive as traders awaited the release of the US Labor Department’s report on American unemployment claims. Japan’s Nikkei 225 led the market’s losses by falling 882.03 points, or 4.51%, into the red.
European markets, however, managed to maintain their positions in green territory despite earlier losses. The UK’s Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 index wrapped up trading with a 127.53-point gain, and the German Dax Performance index closed with a rally of 126.70 points.
Oil prices, meanwhile, fell after undergoing a three-day gain. With shrinking oil demands amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Texas Intermediate crude figures slipped nearly 6%, and Brent crude followed suit with a 2.63% drop.
“With lockdowns in many countries, expectations of oil demand contracting by more than 10 million barrels per day are rising,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Group analysts said in a note seen by Reuters. “Such demand loss will increase the supply glut.”
Citing a Wednesday report from the US Energy Information Administration, the outlet reported that US crude inventories had risen by 1.6 million barrels in the last week, a high that now marks the ninth week of continued spikes. This production is in addition to promised increases in output by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Unemployment Claims Hit Record Highs
With stocks trading sharply higher despite US data revealing that 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment in the previous week, analysts have suggested that the trend signals investors’ hope that the $2 trillion stimulus package cleared by the US Senate late Wednesday will help blunt the economic downturn.
“Investors believe data like today will make it more likely that the [US House of Representatives] will pass the stimulus bill,” Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co, told the Wall Street Journal. “The deeper and the worse the numbers are in the near term, the more possibility there is for a [fiscal] response, which powers the rebound on the other side.”
The US Labor Department’s Thursday report noted that the latest unemployment claim numbers marked the “highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series,” as more than 3 million claims were submitted in just one week.
US states that reported more than 100,000 jobless claims in the week ending March 21 include Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts, among others.
However, claims data released by the federal agency likely doesn’t provide a full picture of the situation, as some state websites encountered technical difficulties. Across the Land of the Free, Americans have voiced their frustrations on the matter on social media, with hundreds of netizens complaining of crashing sites and experiencing extended wait times in a bid to reach unemployment call centers.
Keith Hall, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and adviser to US President George W. Bush, spoke to the Journal in regards to the federal report, saying, “We haven’t seen this big of a free fall before … not even during the Depression.”
“It’s really like an instant Great Recession.”
Multitrillion-Dollar Stimulus Package Moves Ahead
Thursday’s closing figures also come on the heels of the US Senate unanimously passing the $2 trillion economic relief bill late Wednesday. After days’ worth of stalled negotiations, the measure managed to clear the Senate with a vote of 96 to 0.
The 880-page legislation, which includes funds for direct payments to millions of US families and provides financial cushions to shuttered businesses, is considered the largest economic relief bill in US history.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the unprecedented response from the Senate to protect American workers and American business in this situation," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a White House briefing hours before the vote.
The measure has since been passed to the US House, which is expected to vote on it Friday. US President Donald Trump has indicated that once the legislation clears the congressional chambers and arrives on his desk, he will sign it.