Wall Street stocks finished higher Thursday following a volatile session as investors weighed massive government stimulus measures being proposed against some of the first data showing the sharp US economic slowdown underway.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.0 percent to finish the session at 20,087.40, after swinging more than 1,200 points during the day.
The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.5 percent to close at 2,409.40, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 2.3 percent to end at 7,150.58, as large technology companies led the market.
Economists are slashing their outlooks as more sectors of the US radically curtail activities, shutting down stores, cutting transportation routes and suspending or slowing manufacturing.
Many analysts expect markets to remain highly volatile and under pressure until health authorities get a better grasp of the scale of the outbreak in the United States and how long it will curtail activity.
"We are still in the first inning," said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt. "We just don't know where this is going, there is no precedent and that is what is making the market so hysterical."
The US has recorded 10,755 cases of new coronavirus infection, 154 of them fatal. But authorities expect the number to increase steeply in the coming days because of increased levels of testing after initial delays.
Weekly data on US initial jobless claims jumped 70,000 to 281,000, its highest level since September 2017, according to the Labor Department. Economists expected an increase, but that was far higher than the consensus forecast.
Central banks continued to step in, with the US Federal Reserve announcing new measures boost liquidity and the European Central Bank unveiling a new 750 billion euro stimulus package.
And lawmakers on Capitol Hill were pushing ahead with a new $1 trillion stimulus package, which will provide relief to individuals and small businesses, as well a lifeline to airlines, but it is unclear when it will be passed.
Large technology companies had a good session, with Amazon winning 2.8 percent, Facebook 4.2 percent and Netflix 5.3 percent.