US stocks little moved as investors seek bargains, weekly jobless claims fall

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks edged up slightly on Thursday as investors sought bargains a day after the market slumped following a scandal that cast a shadow over Donald Trump's presidency and the future of his ambitious pro-growth agenda.

Reports that Mr Trump had tried to intervene in an ongoing federal investigation led to the harshest selloff in US stocks on Wednesday since his election in November. Analysts, however, said the underlying strength in the economy could give investors the confidence to use Wednesday's decline to buy the market cheap.

"I would anticipate that the markets flatten out and start to rise a little bit maybe midday today, as we finish digesting the news," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management.

"I'm not concerned, just yet, that we're on the cusp of a major breakdown in the market. From a very short term perspective this is a very good buying opportunity."

A report from the US Labor Department showed weekly jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week and the number of Americans receiving unemployment aid hit a 28-1/2-year low, pointing to rapidly shrinking labour market slack. Financials, which sank more than 3 percent on Wednesday, were up 0.5 per cent, leading the gainers on the S&P 500.

At 9:36 a.m. EDT (9: 36 p.m Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 2.99 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 20,609.92, the S&P 500 was up 1.3 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 2,358.33 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 1.59 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,012.83.

Cisco tumbled 8 per cent after the networking gear maker forecast current-quarter revenue that came in below analysts' estimates. Wal-Mart was up 2.6 per cent at US$77.09 after the big-box retailer's quarterly earnings beat analysts'expectations. Alibaba was down 2.9 per cent at US$117.07 after the Chinese e-commerce website's quarterly earnings missed analysts'expectations.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,732 to 802. On the Nasdaq, 1,259 issues fell and 896 advanced. The S&P 500 index showed six new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded three new highs and 31 new lows.