The markets finished the day largely unchanged after wavering much of the afternoon between small gains and losses. The Dow fell 7 points to 31,430, the S&P 500 rose 6 points to 3,916, and the Nasdaq rose 53 points to 14,025. Investors remain cautiously optimistic about prospects for a new round of government aid as the economic recovery seemingly stalls, per the AP. Wall Street continued to digest solid corporate earnings and updates on a decline of new virus cases. The latest government report on jobless claims, though, reaffirmed that employment remains a weak spot in the economy as vaccine distribution ramps up in the hopes of eventually ending the pandemic and its impact.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 793,000. The job market had shown tentative improvement last summer but slowed through the fall and in the past two months. At this point, nearly 10 million jobs still remain lost to the pandemic. Congress, meanwhile, continues working on a potential $1.9 trillion relief package that would include direct payments to people and more jobless aid. In the markets, technology stocks led the gainers after two relatively weak days. Most other sectors of the market edged lower. (Read more stock market stories.)