US STOCKS-Wall Street gains as markets await aid package, U.S. jobs data

Reuters

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    * Weekly jobless claims fall more than expected
    * Western Digital sinks after soft outlook
    * Becton Dickinson tumbles as lockdowns hit medical devices
demand
    * Dow up 0.34%, S&P 500 up 0.36%, Nasdaq up 0.64%

 (Adds new comment, updates prcies)
    By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Medha Singh
    NEW YORK, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Shares on Wall Street rose on
Thursday but moved within narrow ranges, as investors awaited a
new fiscal stimulus package to bolster the country's economy and
digested better-than-expected U.S. jobless claims data.
    The tech-heavy Nasdaq clinched a new record high in early
trading, crossing the 11,000-mark for a second straight day but
has yet to close above the threshold. The benchmark S&P 500 and
blue-chip Dow were about 2% and 8% away from their own peaks
scaled in February.
    Economic data released on Thursday painted a mixed picture
as Labor Department numbers showed a first fall in jobless
claims in three weeks, although a separate report showed a 54%
surge in job cuts announced by employers in July.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2F71R8
    Investors are looking to the next fiscal aid package to
further cope with fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. But Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday Republicans and
Democrats remained far apart over what to include in another
wave of relief.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2F80Q6
    "The stimulus package will clearly help sentiment and boost
the economy near term," said Terry Sandven, chief equity
strategist, at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
    "To that extent, the package should have an upward bias to
the broad market. Ultimately, we need to see the overall economy
start to improve and the growth rates start to accelerate," he
added.
    In mid-afternoon trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
 .DJI  was up 91.65 points, or 0.34%, to 27,293.17, the S&P 500
 .SPX  had gained 12 points, or 0.36%, to 3,339.77 and the
Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  had added 70.72 points, or 0.64%, to
11,069.12.
    The focus now shifts to July jobs report on Friday, with
analysts forecasting a rise of 1.58 million new jobs last month
and a decline in the unemployment rate to 10.5%. 
    Wall Street's main indexes are on pace for a second straight
weekly gain, powered by heaps of fiscal and monetary stimulus
and better-than-feared second-quarter earnings.
    The corporate results season is now in its final stretch,
with about 424 S&P 500 firms having reported so far. Earnings
have been about 22.5% above analyst expectations, according to
IBES Refinitiv data, the highest on record since 1994.
    Energy  .SPNY  and healthcare shares  .SPXHC  fell the most
among major S&P sectors. 
    Among individual shares, Becton Dickinson and Co  BDX.N 
dropped 8.7% after posting quarterly revenue below estimates as
delayed elective procedures during coronavirus-led lockdowns
squeezed demand for some of its devices.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2F82XU 
    Western Digital  WDC.O  sank 16.1% after the hard drive
maker reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue and
forecast a soft current quarter.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2F74HF
    Bristol-Myers Squibb Co  BMY.N  gained 2.6% after the
drugmaker raised its annual profit forecast on hopes of a
recovery in demand for its hospital-administered drugs.
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2F746C
    ViacomCBS Inc  VIACA.O  jumped 3.6% after beating analysts'
estimates for quarterly revenue due to high demand for
streaming.
    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
1.04-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
    The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 139 new highs and 4 new lows.  

 (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Medha Singh
and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr,
Uttaresh.V and Tom Brown)
 ((gertrude.chavez@thomsonreuters.com; 646-301-4124; Reuters
Messaging: rm://gertrude.chavez.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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