Stock Market Today: Big Tech Powers Positive Session for Stocks

The Nasdaq led the major indices higher Thursday amid gains in mega-cap technology stocks such as Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT).

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks got off to a slow start following this morning's weekly jobless claims update, but managed to gain ground on a strong day for Big Tech.

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits in the U.S. last week rose to 744,000 from 728,000, the Labor Department said in its Thursday report.

"The jump in jobless claims is disappointing, but doesn't change our view that the next few months will see huge job gains as the economy continues to reopen," says Jeff Buchbinder, equity strategist at LPL Financial. "In fact, it wouldn't shock us to see unemployment approach pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year."

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A big rally in tech kept the major indices in the green into the close, with FAANG stock Apple (AAPL (opens in new tab), +1.9%) heading higher, while Microsoft (MSFT (opens in new tab), +1.3%) and PayPal Holdings (PYPL (opens in new tab), +3.5%) were also notable gainers.

Not surprisingly, the Nasdaq Composite outperformed its peers, adding 1.0% to 13,829.31. The S&P 500 rose 0.4% to 4,097.17, enough to nab a new high, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2% to end at 33,503.57.

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Other action in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 gained 0.9% to finish at 2,242.60.
  • U.S. crude oil futures gave back 17 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $59.60 per barrel.
  • Gold futures jumped $16.60, or almost 1%, to end at $1,758.20 an ounce – a six-week high.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) fell 0.9% to settle at 17.00, its lowest close since Feb. 10, 2020.
  • Bitcoin prices rose today, adding 2.9% to $57,741.29. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

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(Image credit: YCharts)

A Shakier Short-Term Outlook?

Today's positive finish for the S&P 500 marked its fifth straight close above the round 4,000 mark.

"The long-term monthly charts of the S&P are bullish but remain overbought/extended on a short-term basis," noted Dan Wantrobski, technical strategist and associate director of research at Janney Montgomery Scott on April 5, adding that "this implies we may see some more consolidation ahead out of U.S. large caps – a group that has not (yet) seen a -10% correction so far this year."

Now might be a good time to consider dividend-paying stocks, which ensure you always get paid, even in choppy markets. Among the stocks most likely to keep paying you through boom and bust times are the Dividend Aristocrats – those 65 dividend-paying firms that have delivered higher payouts for at least 25 consecutive years.

At least, there are 65 of them in the U.S. You can also find Dividend Aristocrats elsewhere in the world, providing not just dividend growth but also international diversification. For instance, we've recently highlighted 25 Canadian Dividend Aristocrats, and today, we've turned our gaze to across the pond.

Read on as we highlight 39 European Dividend Aristocrats that provide not just dividend stability and growth, but also (collectively) a better bargain compared to their American counterparts.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.