Mixed close for US stocks after horrendous data, Dow down 0.9%


NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street limped to a mixed a close on Thursday (July 30) following the release of data showing a historically bad crash in US economic growth as well as rising joblessness.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.9 per cent to end the day at 26,313.65, while the broad-based S&P 500 lost 0.4 per cent to close at 3,246.22.

But the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.4 per cent to finish at 10,587.81 ahead of second-quarter earnings from industry leaders Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook released after the close.

The US economy contracted a stunning 32.9 per cent in the second quarter due to lockdowns imposed to stop the coronavirus.

The decline, though slightly less bad than expected, was the worst on record for the world's largest economy dating back to 1947.

Perhaps more troubling was new Labor Department data showing that the US saw its second consecutive weekly increase in initial claims for unemployment benefits, with another 1.43 million filed last week.

The data further illustrated "the unprecedented disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic," investment bank Charles Schwab said in analysis.

Also adding to the uncertainty was a tweet from US President Donald Trump shortly after the data release hinting he favours delaying the November election - something he does not have the power to do.

But the message "looks to be adding to the already-heightened political uneasiness," Schwab said.

Among Thursday's winners were Procter & Gamble, which closed 2.4 per cent higher after reporting strong sales of cleaning products and soaps amid the coronavirus crisis, pushing its second-quarter revenue to US$17.7 billion (S$24 billion), above expectations.

United Airlines fell 2.6 per cent after it said it might have to furlough more pilots than announced as fear of Covid-19 led continues to hit air travel.