US stocks end little changed as jobless claims stay high

Wall Street stocks finished little changed Thursday as investors weighed data showing stubbornly high jobless claims against optimism over the impact of monetary stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.2 percent at 26,079.90.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 0.1 percent to 3,115.32, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.3 percent to 9,943.05.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, described the market as being "in a bit of a stalemate" with worrisome economic and coronavirus trends offset by reassuring support from the Federal Reserve and hopes for coronavirus treatments.

Another 1.5 million US workers filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said, a decrease of only 58,000 from the prior week and higher overall than analysts expected.

Oxford Economics warned that the data shows "significant stress remains in the labor market," while FHN's Chris Low said the figures "suggest claims are leveling off at a level never seen before the Lockdown Recession."

Rising COVID-19 case counts in several states have been adding to the market unease.

Hospitalizations have risen in Texas since Memorial Day, and California on Thursday required face masks face coverings in public indoor spaces following a jump in cases.

Among individual companies, Carnival fell 1.3 percent as it reported a quarterly loss of $4.4 billion and said it is "unable to definitely predict when it will return to normal operations" following coronavirus restrictions on cruise companies.

Grocery chain Kroger fell 3.0 percent despite reporting a 57 percent jump in quarterly profits to $1.2 billion, but declined to lift its full-year forecast due to the uncertainty in the wake of COVID-19.