Stock Market Today: Airbnb Takes Off in Debut

Markets were mixed Thursday as downbeat economic data offset hope for approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Airbnb app
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks closed mostly lower on Thursday, as talks for another round of economic stimulus sputtered and jobless claims spiked.

Weekly applications for first-time unemployment rose 137,000 to a seasonally adjusted 853,000. Economists were looking for claims of just 725,000. The surge in applications suggests that the recovery in the labor market has stumbled amid renewed COVID-19 restrictions.

"Initial and continuing jobless claims posted larger-than-expected increases, with initial claims surging to their highest level in two months," said Michael Gapen of Barclays Research. "Their rise broadly coincides with increased restrictions put in place by many states to offset rising COVID-19 cases."

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Happily, it wasn't all bad news on the pandemic front. Although Democrats and Republicans remain at loggerheads over additional stimulus, investors were able to take heart in the Food and Drug Administration's meeting to weigh the risks of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech (BNTX (opens in new tab), +5.5%) and Pfizer (PFE (opens in new tab), -0.3%).

By session's end, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 29,999, while the broader S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 3,668. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite perked up with a 0.5% gain to close at 12,405. Other action in the market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 rose 1.1% to 1,922.
  • U.S. crude oil futures gained 2.6% to finish at $46.91 per barrel.
  • Gold futures settled at $1,835.50 per ounce, a 0.9% improvement.

Airbnb Demand: A Sign of 2021 Recovery Hopes?

Thursday's biggest star, however, was Airbnb (ABNB (opens in new tab) +113%), which soared in its stock market debut. The home-sharing network raised $3.5 billion in its initial public offering, making it the year's third-largest IPO.

When a stock goes public, it's often taken as a sign of confidence.

Given that 2021 already has no shortage of IPOs (opens in new tab), it's fair to say that confidence is in good supply on Wall Street. Consider what Airbnb tells us. The travel sector has been trashed by the pandemic, but investors are clearly bullish on a rebound in hospitality, travel and leisure next year.

Recovery will be the market's main theme in 2021, and there are a host of ways to play it. With that in mind, have a look at the 21 Best Stocks to Buy for 2021 (opens in new tab), a list that offers exposure to everything from financials to floor scrubbers.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer,

Dan Burrows is a financial writer at Kiplinger, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.

A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.

Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.

In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics and more.

Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.

Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.