stocks

Stock Market Today: Stocks Mixed on Disappointing Jobless Claims

Biogen (BIIB), Kroger (KR) among some of Thursday's more notable moves.

The stock market held up relatively well Thursday given that the major headlines gave bulls little to work with.

The most recent weekly unemployment report revealed a higher-than-expected 1.5 million new jobless claims, and continuing claims barely edged lower, to 20.54 million from 20.61 million a week earlier.

And on the COVID-19 front, investors have more to worry about than case spikes in the U.S., including in Florida, where scientists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania said the state is showing "all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission." Beijing is experiencing a small but sudden outbreak that could threaten global economic activity.

The broader indices barely budged, however. The Dow shed 0.2% to 26,080. The small-cap Russell 2000 advanced by less than a point, while the S&P 500 picked up less than 2 points to 3,115. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, gained 0.3% to 9,943.

A few individual stocks logged more significant losses, however. Kroger (KR, -3.0%) dipped despite beating earnings expectations, possibly because it didn't update its full-year forecast. And biotech firm Biogen (BIIB, -7.5%) sank amid a federal court ruling invalidating a patent for its multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera.

It's increasingly clear that the coronavirus threat hasn't passed. That hardly means we're in for another 30% decline like we saw in February and March, but the market could lose some of its froth if outbreaks continue to worsen in the Sun Belt, which could put a damper on the pace of the economic recovery.

From an investing standpoint, this could further extend the market-share and stock-price gains of e-commerce companies, as well as put the spotlight back on health care companies developing COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

Dividend investors looking to capitalize on the continuation of coronavirus-related sea changes, or at least shield themselves from more COVID-19 worries, can look to real estate … if they pick their spots wisely. While office and retail real estate continue to face a harsh environment regardless of whether the pandemic accelerates further, these nine real estate investment trusts (REITs) provide some insulation, as well as typically well-above-average yields.

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