Stocks climb as oil prices rebound, jobless claims surge

US stocks ticked up Thursday as rising oil prices helped Wall Street shrug off another surge in Americans filing for unemployment benefits.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed as much as 227.85 points, or 0.9 percent, in early trading despite the US Labor Department reporting 4.4 million initial jobless claims last week, bringing the number of people put out of work by the coronavirus crisis to 26 million.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite each posted early gains as large as 1 percent, respectively, following the grim report, which showed the pandemic has wiped out more jobs than the nation added since the Great Recession.

It marks the fifth week in a row that the three major indexes have risen on the same day as a jobless claims report showing millions more Americans put out of work amid widespread lockdowns aimed at curbing the virus.

The boost came alongside a continued rebound in oil prices following their historic nosedive at the start of the week, when one key price turned negative for the first time ever. West Texas Intermediate crude futures surged nearly 26 percent to $17.35 a barrel as of 9:40 a.m., while international Brent crude futures jumped 8 percent to $22.01.

That marked a return to a degree of normalcy for an oil market rattled by the coronavirus crisis and a continued glut of supply. But expect prices to remain under pressure as the pandemic continues to depress demand for fuel by keeps drivers off the roads and travelers out of airplanes.

“Although in percentage terms, the jumps look impressive, we must note that that is because oil prices have collapsed to multi-decade lows,” Jeffrey Halley, senior currency analyst at OANDA, said in a commentary. “In that context, the rallies look anemic and fragile at best.”

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