LONDON: US stocks inched towards record highs on Thursday following a drop in first-time unemployment claims and indications US lawmakers are still seeking common ground on an economic rescue package.

Data showed new weekly claims for unemployment benefits fell below one million for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March.

The 963,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims filed in the week ended Aug 8 came in below expectations.

While the Dow was down in late morning trading, both the broader S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced modestly to near record highs.Europe’s main stock markets failed to get any traction from the US jobs data and ended lower.

Oil prices edged lower, as the IEA cut its 2020 forecast for global oil demand to 91.9 million barrels per day, the first downgrade in a number of months.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020