U.S. stocks rally despite record surge in jobless claims

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NEW YORK, March 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks traded sharply higher on Thursday despite soaring jobless claims in the country amid the COVID-19 crisis.

At midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1,160.70 points, or 5.47 percent, to 22,361.25. The S&P 500 advanced 115.63 points, or 4.67 percent, to 2,591.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 284.54 points, or 3.85 percent, to 7,668.83.

All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors traded higher, with utilities up about 5 percent, outpacing the rest.

The market movement came despite a historic surge in the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits due to the coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, were registered at 3,283,000 in the week ending March 21, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week's revised level, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. Consensus expectations were for 1.64 million claims.

"The number of people filing for claims last week is indicative of the degree of shock to the economy," Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial, said in a note on Thursday, adding "the number understates the damage," as a significant number of people could not file because the system was overwhelmed.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday night passed a 2-trillion-U.S.-dollar stimulus package to blunt the economic fallout of COVID-19, after rounds of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans. Enditem

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