By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com -- U.S. stock markets pared losses at the opening Thursday to trade roughly unchanged, as a sharp three-day rally gave way to consolidation in the wake of an uncomfortable reminder of the disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street.
Data released earlier showed that continuing jobless claims unexpectedly rose by some 650,000 two weeks ago to 21.49 million, suggesting that the pace of re-hiring after a disastrous April is still not keeping up with new job losses. Initial jobless claims, which cover last week, did however fall below 2 million for the first time since March, totalling only 1.877 million.
By 10:05 AM ET (1405 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 7 points, effectively unchanged. The S&P 500 was also flat and the Nasdaq Composite, which has rallied to within sight of a new all-time high in the last month, was up less than 0.1%.
While recent survey data have pointed to a stabilization in May, there was still evidence of how sharply the economy contracted in April, as new figures showing exports falling by nearly one quarter from March's levels, and imports falling by 15%.
The market wasn't noticeably affected by news from Europe, where the European Central Bank nearly doubled the size of its flagship anti-pandemic bond-buying program to 1.35 trillion euros ($1.5 trillion).
Among individual stocks, Warner Music Group (NASDAQ:WMG) stock rose another 1.2% after soaring 20% on its market debut on Wednesday, whille airline stocks bucked the downward trend after another upbeat update from American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL).
American Airlines stock rose 9.4% after the carrier said it will fly 55% of its year-earlier domestic schedule in July. That's up from some 20%-25% in the current month. Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) stock rose 4.1% and United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) stock rose 3.6% in sympathy.
TD Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD) stock rose 2.5% but Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) stock fell marginally after the two companies said that the Department of Justice had ended its investigation into their proposed merger, which they now expect to close in the second half of the year.
Another merger, however, appeared to be in trouble after reports that LVMH (OTC:LVMUY) is looking to revise the terms of its proposed deal for Tiffany, owing to the lowered outlook for the U.S. jewelry market. Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) stock fell another 0.5% after sliding nearly 10% on Wednesday on rumors of the French company's change of heart.
Elsewhere, Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock rose 0.7% after Reuters reported that the e-commerce giant is looking to buy a $2 billion stake in Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel Ltd. (NS:BRTI).
U.S. Crude Oil Futures meanwhile fell 1.4% to $36.78 amid doubts that the OPEC+ bloc of crude exporters will extend their agreement to keep 9.7 million barrels of oil a day off world markets. The deal is due to be relaxed at the end of the month as the weakening of the global pandemic allows demand to pick up.