US stocks finish historically strong April on weak note

Wall Street stocks fell Thursday following another round of poor economic data, bringing a lackluster conclusion to an April rebound that constituted the market's best month in decades.

The S&P 500 shed 0.9 percent to finish at 2,912.43, but that was a 12 percent increase over March -- making it the best monthly performance since 1987.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 1.2 percent to end the session at 24,345.72, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.3 percent at 8,889.55.

Stocks have been on a tear in recent weeks as the market focuses on improving trends in some coronavirus hotspots and unprecedented government stimulus rather than the mounting economic toll from the crisis.

Another 3.84 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits last week and the total has now passed 30 million in six weeks, according to the Labor Department data.

But the Federal Reserve on Thursday expanded its business loan program to reach more troubled firms, the latest forceful move that has emboldened equity investors.

"The Fed will keep funnelling capital into the financial system until the American economy is back on a solid footing," analyst Nicholas Colas of DataTrek Research said in a note.

"Since no one knows how the US economic restart will actually go and if there will be setbacks, the Fed will err on the side of more stimulus rather than less for many, many more months."

Facebook jumped 5.4 percent as it reported a sharp increase in usage as the global pandemic, even though it saw weaker demand for advertising as well as a drop in ad prices during the last three weeks of the quarter.

Twitter dove 6.8 percent after reporting an $8 million quarterly loss as the global pandemic hit advertising revenue, even as the social platform saw a surge in new users.

Fast food chain McDonald's slipped 0.1 percent as it reported a steep decline in March sales and warned of continued weakness in April.

American Airlines dropped 4.9 percent after reporting a $2.2 billion quarterly loss in the wake of a profound industry downturn.