Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened mixed on Thursday, supported by fresh evidence of a strengthening labor market recovery, but the narrow range of the main indices belied some sharp movements among individual stocks.
By 9:43 AM ET (1343 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 55 points,. or 0.2%, at 34,285 points, while the S&P 500 was up only 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.1%, with the economic data once again favoring reopening trades and squeezing money out of growth stocks.
There were big declines in the pharma sector as the European Union signaled its willingness to discuss waiving intellectual property rights over Covid-19 vaccines, an idea floated on Wednesday by President Joe Biden’s chief trade advisor Katharine Tai. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) stock fell 9.3% and BioNTech fell 9.0% and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) – whose business is more diversified – fell 2.9%. The three companies, who are behind the most effective and innovative treatments so far approved to treat Covid-19, have the most to lose from such an idea, as it would effectively end their pricing power over their most valuable drug.
Earlier, the Labor Department’s latest weekly figures showed initial jobless claims falling to a new post-pandemic low last week, while the broadest measure of those claiming unemployment-related benefits also fell by another 405,000 to just over 16 million. Those figures were preceded by the monthly Challenger Job Cuts survey that showed layoffs down to their lowest level in 20 years. The Challenger survey isn’t comprehensive but generally correlates well to broader trends in the labor market.
Earnings season appeared to generate more negative than positive surprises for once. with Fastly (NYSE:FSLY) stock dropping over 21% after the content delivery provider reported a quarterly loss, a disappointing outlook and the departure of its chief financial officer. Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY) stock meanwhile fell 11% after it became the latest second-tier online marketplace to warn of slowing sales and tough comparables going forward. Smaller Internet names faring worse than the big platform companies has been a standout characteristic of the current earnings season.
Rocket Companies (NYSE:RKT) fell 16.5% after the online mortgage lender said its key ‘gain-on-sale’ metric is well below first-quarter levels.
Uber (NYSE:UBER) stock also fell 3.6% after its quarterly update revealed higher costs for acquiring and retaining drivers, due largely to new regulation in the U.K. The numbers raised concerns that similar regulation – as foreshadowed by the cancellation on Wednesday of a Trump-era rule on the definition of contractors – could also derail its journey towards a profit.