Dow rises 200 points after strong jobs report, but gains kept in check by coronavirus fears

Stocks rose on Thursday as investors cheered a bigger-than-expected increase in jobs in June as the economy tries to claws back from the coronavirus shutdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 232 points higher, or 0.9%. The Nasdaq Composite hit a record high, climbing 0.9%. The S&P 500 gained 0.9%. Boeing contributed to the gains, rising 0.6% after the airplane maker completed recertification flights for its grounded 737 Max jet

The major averages, however, cut their gains after Florida reported a one-day spike of more than 10,000 coronavirus cases. The U.S. also reported a record of more than 50,000 cases in one day on Wednesday

Stocks that would benefit from an economic reopening rolled over. United Airlines and American traded slightly lower after jumping earlier in the day. Cruise operators Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean were down at least 0.2% each. 

Wall Street started the session with sharp gains after the government reported 4.8 million jobs were created in June. Economists were expecting 2.9 million jobs were created. The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% from 13.3% in May. Economists were expecting a rate of 12.4%, according to Dow Jones. 

“Another major surprise here in terms of market expectations,” said Christian Scherrmann, U.S. economist at DWS. “What we’ve seen in May and June is a blueprint for a fast recovery, but only once the virus situation is under control.”

Last month, economists forecast a loss of 8 million jobs in May and the economy gained 2.5 million payrolls instead.

“The direction of the economy is certainly north,” Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” following the report. “I think that’s all it has to do to continue to provide confidence, not only to investors, but also to companies and to consumers.”

Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims data was released Thursday morning. 

The Labor Department said Thursday that initial jobless claims rose by 1.427 million in the week ending June 27. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected initial U.S. jobless claims to rise by another 1.38 million, down from 1.48 million the week earlier.

The data also showed the number of continuing claims — the number of people receiving unemployment benefits for consecutive weeks — rose to 19.29 million, an increase of about 59,000. 

The moves Thursday followed the market’s first trading day in the third quarter. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained during the regular session on Wednesday, with the latter jumping more than 1% to an all-time high. 

U.S. markets will be closed on Friday for the July Fourth holiday.

CNBC’s Patti Domm contributed reporting.

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