Stocks move little after record-breaking unemployment claims

Stocks barely budged Thursday morning after the Labor Department reported a staggering, record-shattering surge in applications for unemployment benefits last week due to the coronavirus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite stayed largely flat after the federal government reported that 6.6 million people filed unemployment claims between March 22 and 28. Last week’s claims were more than double the roughly 3.3 million applications reported in the week prior, which far exceeded a record of 695,000 in October 1982.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the U.S. economy, forcing businesses across the country to close to slow its spread. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and the restaurants, bars, retailers, entertainment venues, and other businesses that once employed them are facing bankruptcy.

Public health officials have warned that it may be months until non-essential businesses can begin to reopen and Americans can slowly return to normal social gatherings. That makes a swift economic recovery from the pandemic even harder, economists say.

President Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have both voiced support for a massive infrastructure spending package that would aim to stimulate the economy, create jobs, and repair deficient roads, bridges, waterways, and telecom networks.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have both tamped down on talks of another titanic spending bill, saying Congress should instead wait to gauge the effects of the $2-trillion bill enacted by Trump last week.

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