(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow were largely unchanged on Thursday as investors stayed on the sidelines amid an uptick in coronavirus infections in parts of the United States and an elevated level of weekly jobless claims.
Several U.S. states including Texas, Florida and Oklahoma reported a surge in new infections. However, President Donald Trump said late on Wednesday the United States would not close businesses again.
The Labor Department’s report showed weekly jobless claims declining for the eleventh straight week, but the pace of declines has slowed as tepid demand and fractured supply chains have sparked a second wave of layoffs.
“Investors desperately want to be optimistic, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” said Katerina Simonetti, senior portfolio manager, UBS Private Wealth Management in Philadelphia.
“This market seems to be all about the short term – a lot of volatility, lots of fluctuations and extremely dependent on a number of (COVID-19) cases.”
A spike in coronavirus infections have threatened to upend bets of a swift economic recovery. The S&P 500 .SPX is now 8% below its February all-time high after coming within 5% of that level last week.
“When we look at valuations market is definitely ahead of itself, not only for this year but possibly even for next year,” Simonetti said.
At 11:18 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 2.98 points, or 0.01%, at 26,116.63, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 5.01 points, or 0.16%, at 3,118.50. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 46.74 points, or 0.47%, at 9,957.27.
Technology .SPLRCT was the biggest boost to the benchmark index. Real estate .SPLRCR and utilities .SPLRCU posted the steepest percentage declines.
Biogen Inc (BIIB.O) dropped 5.2% after a U.S. district court ruled in favor of generic drugmaker Mylan NV (MYL.O) in a patent dispute over drugmaker’s blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera. Mylan NV (MYL.O) rose 4.3%.
Spotify Technology SA (SPOT.N) jumped 10% after signing a podcast deal with AT&T Inc’s (T.N) Warner Bros and DC entertainment featuring popular DC comics characters.
Carnival Corp (CCL.N) slipped 1.2% after reporting a quarterly net loss of $4.4 billion and warning of a loss for the rest of the year as the pandemic brought its cruise business to an effective standstill.
Advancing issues nearly matched decliners on the NYSE and outperformed decliners by a 1.43-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded four new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 62 new highs and two new lows.