1.9 Million Unemployment Claims; Travel Bets Surge

John Divine

Weekly employment numbers showed that the U.S. labor market continues to deteriorate on Thursday, but the numbers weren't bad enough to shock Wall Street. These days, numbers that bad are hard to come by.

Although stocks spent the day treading water, they've been on a tear since hitting March lows, and even a recent growth domestic product estimate that forecasts a 53% decline this quarter didn't stop the rally in its tracks.

While the overall market was sideways Thursday, the top two performing sectors, financials and industrials, each rose more than 1% -- implying investors may think the U.S. is already in the early stages of a recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12 points, or 0.1%, to finish at 26,281.

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Breadline. About 1.88 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, more than the 1.8 million claims economists were predicting.

The number of continuing claims, which reflects how many Americans in total are actively collecting on unemployment, edged up to around 21.4 million -- a shocking level considering it was hovering around 1.7 million before the virus hit.

On the brighter side, that number, which as of May 23, is lower than the 24.9 million peak that hit on the week ending on May 9.

ECB steps up stimulus to $1.5 trillion. The European Central Bank boosted its bond-buying program of roughly $1.5 trillion, as Europe's counterpart to the U.S. Federal Reserve takes a page from the Fed's book, vowing to prop up the bloc's economy with a flood of liquidity.

Investors cheered the move, and the euro rallied, reaching a multimonth high against the dollar.

American Airlines up 41%. Far and away the highest-flying stock in the S&P 500 was American Airlines (ticker: AAL), which soared 41%, a one-day record for the company, on Thursday. The massive gain was driven by comments from the company over the recovery in demand it's seeing.

It expects to see 55% of the capacity in July that it saw in the year-ago period and is planning to reopen 11 of its American Airlines Admirals Clubs on June 22. As recently as April, American's average load factor, or the percentage of capacity utilized by passengers, was a lowly 15%.

United Airlines ( UAL) and Delta Air Lines ( DAL) were the second- and third-best performers in the S&P, rising 16.2% and 13.7%, respectively.