US STOCKS-Wall Street gains as job losses stir talk of more stimulus

Reuters

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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 jump: Dow 2.98%, S&P 3.03%, Nasdaq 2.63%

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    By Uday Sampath Kumar and Medha Singh
    March 26 (Reuters) - Wall Street gained more ground on
Thursday as the record weekly jobless claims came in below
investors' worst fears, but added to the case for more stimulus
to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
    Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 3.28
million last week as lockdowns across the country brought
economic activity to a sudden halt and unleashed a wave of
layoffs, but were still below estimates ranging as high as 4
million.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nAQN02BMEJ
    "It's unprecedented and the highest it's been since the
metric even began in the '60s," said Mike Loewengart, managing
director, investment strategy at E*Trade Financial in New
Jersey.
    "That said, it's no secret that times will be tough on the
jobs front for the foreseeable future, so even a number this
large is relatively priced in. The real question at hand now is
if the current stimulus package is enough to give Americans the
support they need."
    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Thursday the
central bank would act "aggressively" to keep firms and families
afloat, after already announcing an unprecedented policy easing
earlier this week.
    Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate passed a whopping $2 trillion
stimulus package to aid distressed industries and millions of
Americans devastated by the health crisis.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2BJ07L
    The S&P 500  .SPX  is now on pace for its third straight
session of gains, the index's longest run since Feb. 12, but has
only recouped a fraction of the nearly $8 trillion in value lost
since a record high last month as the pandemic showed no signs
of peaking. 
    Traders expect more wild swings as fears of a deep and
lasting global recession and corporate defaults rage amid a
breakdown in business activity.
    "This is the beginning of the really bad numbers we're going
to see for the foreseeable month," said Subadra Rajappa, head of
U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale in New York.
    The CBOE volatility index  .VIX  fell 4.4 points in early
trading, but was still near levels far above those in 2018 and
2019. 
    United Airlines  UAL.O , Delta  DAL.O  and American Airlines
 AAL.O  rose between 5.4% and 8%, while Boeing  BA.N  rose 7% as
the U.S. Senate aid bill included a $58 billion provision for
the aerospace industry.
    At 10:00 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI 
was up 631.29 points, or 2.98%, at 21,831.84, the S&P 500  .SPX 
was up 75.07 points, or 3.03%, at 2,550.63. The Nasdaq Composite
 .IXIC  was up 194.36 points, or 2.63%, at 7,578.66.
    All 11 major S&P sectors was trading higher, with a 2.9%
gain in technology  .SPLRCT  stocks providing the biggest boost.
    Advancing issues outnumbered decliners nearly 5-to-1 on the
NYSE and 4-to-1 on the Nasdaq.
    The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high or low, while the
Nasdaq logged one new high and six new lows.    

 (Reporting by Uday Sampath and Medha Singh in Bengaluru;
Additional reporting by Ross Kerber in New York; Editing by Anil
D'Silva, Sagarika Jaisinghani and Arun Koyyur)
 ((UdaySampath.Kumar@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S.+1 646 223
8780; Twitter: @sampath_uday; Reuters Messaging:
UdaySampath.Kumar.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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