US STOCKS-Dow wraps up strongest three days since 1931


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    * Weekly jobless claims rise to record 3.28 mln
    * Airlines surge on $58 bln industry aid package
    * S&P 500 set for third straight session of gains
    * Indexes: Dow +6.38%, S&P 500 +6.24%, Nasdaq +5.60%

 (Updates with detail on market, comment from strategist)
    By Noel Randewich
    March 26 (Reuters) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI 
wrapped up its strongest three days in nine decades on Thursday
as record weekly U.S. jobless claims came in below investors'
worst fears and the focus stayed on an unprecedented $2 trillion
stimulus awaiting approval by the U.S. House of Representatives.
    The Dow finished up 21% from its Monday low, establishing it
in a bull market, according to a widely used definition. It was
the index's strongest three-day percentage increase since 1931.
    The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment
benefits surged to 3.28 million last week as state-wide
lockdowns brought the U.S. economy to a halt and unleashed a
wave of layoffs.*:nAQN02BMEJ
    The median expectation of analysts polled by Reuters was for
1 million claims, but the top end of the forecast was as high as
4 million.
    Expectations are high that the House will pass the stimulus
measure to support distressed industries, including airlines,
after the Senate cleared the proposal. It would flood the
country with cash in an effort to stem the crushing economic
impact of an intensifying pandemic that has killed about 1,000
and infected nearly 70,000 people in the United States.*:nL1N2BJ07L
    The S&P 500  .SPX  benchmark index also logged a third
straight day of gains for the first time since mid-February,
before coronavirus fears stopped Wall Street's 11-year bull
market. Since Monday, the S&P 500 has surged about 17%, although
it remains down 22% from its Feb. 19 record high.
    "It's encouraging to see people buying a day after a big up
day because we hadn't seen that in a month," said Randy
Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles
Schwab. "That doesn't guarantee that the bottom is in, but it is
indicative of a bottoming process." 
     While the Dow's surge may be viewed as birth of a new bull
market after just six week in a bear market, many investors fear
Wall Street could plunge again as coronavirus infections
increase and more people die.
    “The price swings we have seen, both to the upside and to
the downside, have been really exaggerated over the past month.
So getting a big bounce now is more a function of the weakness
we have seen than an indicator of what lies ahead,” warned
Willie Delwiche, an investment strategist at Robert W. Baird.
    Boeing Co  BA.N  rose 14%, boosted by a $58 billion
provision for the aerospace industry in the latest aid bill.
Boeing has surged over 90% in the past four sessions. 
    Adding to the upbeat sentiment, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome
Powell said the central bank stood ready to act "aggressively"
to shore up credit in the market on top of the unprecedented
policy easing announced on Monday.*:nL1N2BJ0HW
    "He said the Fed is not going to run out of ammunition and
that the committee still has policy room for more action," said
Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group in
    The CBOE volatility index  .VIX , known as Wall Street's
fear gauge, fell 2.9 points, but was still near levels far above
those in 2018 and 2019. 
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  jumped 6.38% to end
at 22,552.17, while the S&P 500  .SPX  surged 6.24% to 2,630.07.
The Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  added 5.6% to 7,797.54.
    The S&P utilities index  .SPLRCU  was the strongest among 11
sectors, jumping 8.4%.
    Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
5.15-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.71-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
    The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded four new highs and 13 new lows.  
    Volume on U.S. exchanges was 15.0 billion shares, compared
with the 16.2 billion-share average for the full session over
the last 20 trading days.

 (Reporting by Noel Randewich
additional reporting by Uday Sampath and Medha Singh in
Bengaluru, and Ross Kerber in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler
and Leslie Adler)
 ((; Twitter handle: @randewich  (415) 677
2542; Reuters Messaging:

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