US stocks end mixed amid downbeat data

New York, April 24 (IANS) US equities closed mixed, giving up most of their earlier gains, after more data showed the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the world’s largest economy.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 39.44 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 23,515.26. The S&P 500 fell 1.51 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 2,797.80. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.63 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 8,494.75, Xinhua news agency reported.

The 30-stock index rallied more than 400 points earlier in the session, while both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up more than 1 per cent.

On the data front, US initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, registered 4.427 million in the week ending April 18, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. That brought the total number of claimants in the past five weeks to more than 26 million amid the COVID-19 fallout.

Private sector firms in the United States signalled an unprecedented decline in business activity in April, with manufacturing and service sector companies registering marked contractions of output amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by London-based global information provider IHS Markit on Thursday.

The IHS Markit Flash US manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 36.9 in April from 48.5 in March, while the Flash US services PMI plunged to 27 this month from the March reading of 39.8.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 856,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States, with 47,272 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.