Shares were capped within a narrow range on Thursday as traders struggled to decipher the meaning of a surprise rise in unemployment, which threatens a 2-day rally that wiped out losses on the worst trading day of 2021 .

Sentiment took a hit after data on Thursday showed an unexpected rise in jobless claims, which last week set a new pandemic-era low. New unemployment records jumped to 419,000 in the past week, well above consensus estimates of 360,000.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the data set has served as an avatar of the health of the labor market and could take on new significance if the rise in infections begins to trigger further restrictions – which could lead to another round job losses.

“As with the recent resurgence of COVID cases stemming from the Delta variant, the surge in unemployment claims is a disappointment. The recovery is never a perfect straight line,” noted Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.

Shares ended a two-day streak on Wednesday, in an effort to calibrate a resurgence of COVID-19 cases against a searing economic expansion that continues to gain momentum. In the process, strong earnings helped the market recover from Monday’s pandemic-inspired slump, with investors focusing on fundamentals rather than increasing the number of coronaviruses.

Industry leaders Netflix (NFLX), Chipotle (CMG), Coca-Cola (KO), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Verizon (VZ) have exceeded market expectations, boosting a market that has seen little decline these last months. The selloff that started the week was the worst trading day of the year and frightened traders who had become “spoiled” by a seemingly endless streak of winning streaks.

“The truth is, investors have been very spoiled by the recent stock performance,” LPL Financial chief market strategist Ryan Detrick wrote on Wednesday.

“Incredibly, we haven’t seen that much 5% decline since October. While we firmly believe this bull market is alive and well, let’s not kid ourselves by thinking that trees grow forever. The risk is definitely increasing as we head into the difficult months of August and September, ”he added.

Netflix, however, has resisted the market trend. It exceeded analysts’ expectations for new subscribers in the second quarter, but fell short of the target of estimates for the third quarter. On Wednesday, the stock had its worst day in three months, falling more than 3% as markets registered their disapproval of its mixed results.

Monday’s massive selloff momentarily drew attention to quarterly earnings which almost uniformly reflected a strong rebound. The growing number of cases driven by the Delta variant – a more transmissible form of COVID-19 – has pushed the Dow (^ DJI), Nasdaq (^ IXIC) and S&P 500 (^ GSPC) at their biggest drop in months.

However, investors are reconsidering some of that pessimism, with some analysts pointing out that hospitalizations and deaths have not increased as dramatically – and are well below what they were during the worst days of the outbreak. COVID-19.

“The market is playing this collective chicken game right now,” CIC Wealth executive vice president Malcolm Ethridge told Yahoo Finance Live. “We all agree that we cannot continue on this path for much longer. There is no obvious catalyst.

Investors are also watching cryptocurrencies, after billionaire Elon Musk – in a surprising U-turn – said Tesla (TSLA) would likely resume accepting bitcoin (BTC-USD) for vehicle purchases. In May, Musk sent shockwaves through the digital coin market when he reconsidered his support for the currency’s use in Tesla transactions. Bitcoin was up more than 1% in early US exchanges on the news.

12:25 p.m. ET: Reports: Multiple sites having issues

CNBC and Bloomberg both report that major websites, including Home Depot, Capital One, Delta and Vanguard, were unreachable as a result of what appears to be a widespread denial of service (DNS) error. At this time, it’s unclear whether this is a technical issue or something more sinister, such as a cyber attack.

12:00 p.m. ET: Shares are drastically unchanged after unemployment data

Here’s where the market was held around noon Eastern Time:

  • S&P 500 (^ GSPC): 4,357.95, -0.74 (-0.02%)

  • Dow (^ DJI): 34,752.06, -45.94 (-0.13%)

  • Nasdaq (^ IXIC): 14,658.03, +26.07 (+ 0.18%)

10 a.m. ET: housing market shows strength in June

Home sales rebounded in June after dropping four months as house prices continued to hit new highs.

Existing home sales rose 1.4% to seasonally adjusted 5.86 million in June, from the previous month, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

9:30 a.m.ET: Wall Street stagnates after surging jobless claims

Here is where the main landmarks were at the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 (^ GSPC): 4,363.52, +4.83 (+ 0.11%)

  • Dow (^ DJI): 34 786.95, -11.05 (-0.03%)

  • Nasdaq (^ IXIC): 14,670.75, +38.79 (+ 0.27%)

  • Gross (CL = F): $71.00 per barrel, + $ 0.70 (+1.00%)

  • Gold (CG = F): $1,795.00 per ounce – $ 8.40 (-0.47%)

  • 10-year bond (^ TNX): + 0.1bps yielding 1.293%

9 a.m. ET: Uber buys Transplace for $ 2.25 billion as transport ambitions take shape

Uber’s Freight Unit (UBER) on Thursday announced a deal to buy Transplace for $ 2.25 billion from private equity firm TPG, as part of the ride-sharing pioneer’s vision to be more competitive in the transport and logistics sector.

From the exit:

[The deal] will create an industry-leading combined freight technology operating system to enable a complete end-to-end solution from shipper to carrier, unlocking new levels of efficiency and service.

This transaction is expected to accelerate Uber Freight’s journey to profitability and help the segment break even on an adjusted EBITDA basis by the end of 2022.

Uber’s stock is down modestly ahead of market action, trading above $ 47 per share.

8:30 a.m.ET: Unemployment claims surge after hitting pandemic-era low

Job seekers prepare for the opening of the career fair at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey on January 6, 2011. New claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, but fell from the four-week average to nearly 2-1 / 2 -year lows suggested that the job market continues to improve. REUTERS / Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: JOB BUSINESS)

An unexpected setback for market sentiment as the ranks of the unemployed have unexpectedly swelled over the past week, even as Wall Street expects employment in July to continue to strengthen. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose from 51,000 to 419,000 seasonally adjusted for the week ended July 17, the Labor Department said Thursday.

There may be some noise in the data, but it is clearly a drag on sentiment, with stock futures losing momentum after the data. For now, Wall Street is poised for a slightly higher open.

7:20 a.m. ET: Thursday: Futures show strength

Here are the main movements at 7.20 am:

  • Dow Futures (YM = F): 34,758.00, +69.00 (+0.20%)

  • Nasdaq Futures (NQ = F): 14,851.75, + 24.00 (+ 0.16%)

  • S&P 500 Futures Contracts (ES = F): 4.358.25, +7.75 (+ 0.18%)

  • Gross (CL = F): $71.00 per barrel, + $ 0.70 (+1.00%)

  • Gold (CG = F): $1,795.00 per ounce – $ 8.40 (-0.47%)

6:10 p.m. ET Wednesday night: equity futures rise

Here are the main moves in the markets at 6:10 p.m. ET:

  • Dow Futures (YM = F): 34 716, +27

  • Nasdaq Futures (NQ = F): 14,832, +4.25

  • S&P 500 Futures Contracts (ES = F): 4,325, +2.75

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Javier David is editor-in-chief for Yahoo Finance. Follow Javier on Twitter: @TeflonGeek

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