By Lewis Krauskopf
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s indexes climbed on Thursday, with the Nasdaq erasing losses for 2020, following a clutch of upbeat earnings reports led by PayPal as investors looked past more weak jobs data caused by the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.
Energy <.SPNY>, financials <.SPSY> and materials <.SPLRCM>, which have lagged this year, led the way among S&P 500 sectors, while consumer staples <.SPLRCS> lagged the most.
Shares of PayPal Holdings <PYPL.O> soared 14% and boosted the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq after the company said it expects a strong recovery in payments volumes in the second quarter as social distancing drives more people to shop online.
Shares of media company ViacomCBS Inc <VIAC.O> and ride-hailing firm Lyft <LYFT.O> also jumped after their earnings, as a first-quarter reporting season that Refinitiv estimates will show a 12% decline in earnings begins to wind down. ViacomCBS shares rose 10.3% and Lyft shares climbed 21.7%.
Stocks have rebounded sharply since late March from the coronavirus-fueled sell-off, helped by massive monetary and fiscal stimulus. Investors are now watching efforts by a number of states to spark their economies by easing restrictions put in place to fight the outbreak.
“Everything is going smoothly so far and I think there’s an assumption on the market’s part that that’s a good sign,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. “The market is looking at this and saying so far, so good.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 211.25 points, or 0.89%, to 23,875.89, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 32.77 points, or 1.15%, to 2,881.19 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 125.27 points, or 1.41%, to 8,979.66.
The Nasdaq turned marginally positive for 2020 by closing above 8,972.604, after being down well over 20% for the year as of late March. The S&P 500 remains down over 10% this year.
(GRAPHIC: Nasdaq erases coronavirus losses – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/azgpomjewpd/Annotation%202020-05-07%20112416.jpg)
(GRAPHIC: Amazon and Microsoft fuel Nasdaq gains – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/oakveznrzpr/Amazon%20and%20Nasdaq.jpg)
Data showed millions more Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting layoffs broadened from consumer-facing industries to other segments of the economy and could remain elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen.
The U.S. employment report for April is due on Friday.
“The market rightly or wrongly is just much more focused on what that data looks like two months from now, not what that data looks like right now,” said Eric Freedman, chief investment officer at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
Investors were also encouraged by news that China’s exports unexpectedly rose in April for the first time this year as factories raced to make up for lost sales due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The development of treatments for the coronavirus has been watched closely by Wall Street as key for resuming economic activity. Moderna Inc <MRNA.O> shares rose 8.7% after the company sped up plans for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine and said it expected to start a late-stage trial in early summer.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.96-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.33-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted nine new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 56 new highs and eight new lows.
About 10.4 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, below the 11.7 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco, Chuck Mikolajczak in New York, C Nivedita and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani, Bernard Orr, Arun Koyyur and Cynthia Osterman)