Stocks Lower Despite Multi-Decade Low in Jobless Claims…..

U.S. equities finished mostly lower following three days of gains that brought record-high territory back to within reach. The moves came despite jobless claims hitting a low not seen in more than 50 years, as the markets continued to assess the ramifications surrounding the omicron COVID-19 variant. In equity news, Hormel Foods bested Q4 earnings and revenue expectations on record sales and profits for the quarter, while GameStop delivered mixed results, falling short of earnings expectations and posting a wider-than-expected loss. In other economic news, wholesale inventories were revised higher. Treasuries were mixed, and the U.S. dollar gained ground, while crude oil prices and gold were lower. Markets in Europe and Asia finished mixed amid the omicron concerns, and as the U.K. implemented new restrictions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was nearly unchanged at 35,755, while the S&P 500 Index shed 34 points (0.7%) to 4,667, and the Nasdaq Composite tumbled 270 points (1.7%) to 15,517. In moderate volume, 3.8 billion shares of NYSE-listed stocks were traded, and 4.4 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil lost $1.42 to $70.94 per barrel. Elsewhere, the gold spot price declined $9.50 to $1,776.00 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.3% higher at 96.22.

Jobless claims hit lowest level in over 50 years…..

Weekly initial jobless claims came in at a level of 184,000 for the week ended December 4, the lowest level in over 50 years, versus the Bloomberg consensus estimate of 220,000 and compared to the prior week’s upwardly-revised 227,000 level. The four-week moving average fell by 21,250 to 218,750, and continuing claims for the week ended November 27 increased by 38,000 to 1,992,000, above estimates of 1,910,000. The four-week moving average of continuing claims decreased by 54,250 to 2,027,500.

October wholesale inventories were revised to a 2.3% month-over-month (m/m) increase from the previously reported 2.2% gain, versus estimates for it to remain unchanged. Sales were upwardly adjusted to a 2.2% rise from the prior 1.1% advance, and compared to forecasts of a 1.0% gain.

Treasuries were mixed, as the yield on the 2-year note was up 2 basis points (bps) at 0.69%, while the yields on 10-year note and the 30-year bond fell 2 bps to 1.49% and 1.87%, respectively.

The Treasury yield curve has flattened noticeably as of late amid the omicron variant uncertainty and as the Fed is expected to discuss speeding up its monthly asset purchase tapering campaign at next week’s monetary policy meeting.

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