April 30, 2020 / 5:35 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall St slides on grim jobless data, set for best month in decades

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* Facebook jumps after upbeat quarterly revenue

* Tesla jumps after reporting profitable quarter

* U.S. weekly jobless claims remain elevated

* McDonald’s dips as quarterly profit slides

* Indexes down: Dow 1.42%, S&P 500 1.21%, Nasdaq 0.66% (Adds comments, updates to early afternoon)

By C Nivedita and Shreyashi Sanyal

April 30 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes fell on Thursday after a strong month of gains as millions of more Americans applied for jobless claims, taking the shine off a strong rally this month and eclipsing upbeat results from Facebook and Tesla.

All 11 S&P 500 sector indexes were trading lower, with financials, materials and utilities leading declines.

Dramatic U.S. stimulus and hopes of a revival in business activity as states reopen from lockdowns have powered a Wall Street rally in April, putting the S&P 500 and Dow Jones index on course for their best months since 1987.

But investors remain cautious of the pace of the recovery from a looming recession, with economic indicators underlining the extent of the damage already done.

The Labor Department’s report showed initial jobless claims totaled 3.84 million for the week ended April 25, a day after data confirmed the biggest contraction for the U.S. economy in the first quarter since the Great Recession.

“The jobless claims figure is a kind of feedback from some of the policy that we’ve undertaken as a country to fight (the crisis), but hopefully a lot of these jobless folk will come back into the workforce,” said Matt Stucky, portfolio manager at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“The timing of when that happens is going to be a function of the road to recovery from the coronavirus.”

The U.S. Federal Reserve widened a key program to nurse the “Main Street” economy, agreeing to lend to even larger firms, taking on more risk in participation with banks.

Investors will now focus on earnings reports from Apple and Amazon.com after markets close.

Facebook Inc jumped 5% after the social media giant posted better-than-expected quarterly revenue.

Market-leading growth stocks such as, Facebook, Apple, Amazon.com, Netflix and Alphabet, the so-called FAANG group, have gained between 12% and 25% this month.

“The stock market has largely been driven by a lot of these disruptive tech-names in past years, so many investors are looking to these names to come and lead us out of the downtown,” said Chris Andrews, co-founder and co-portfolio manager at SilverCross Investment Management in Amsterdam.

At 12:56 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 349.46 points, or 1.42%, at 24,284.40, the S&P 500 was down 35.64 points, or 1.21%, at 2,903.87 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 59.22 points, or 0.66%, at 8,855.49.

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc gained 2% after posting its third straight quarterly profit, taking investors by surprise as its automaker peers were hit by a slump in consumer demand and factory shutdowns.

McDonald’s Corp shed 2% after it reported a 16.7% slide in quarterly profit as most of its restaurants across the globe limited their services to deliveries and take-aways.

American Airlines fell 3.7% as the airline operator posted its first quarterly loss since emerging from bankruptcy in 2013 and warned of a $70 million a day cash burn.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.17-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and nearly the same on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded two new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 18 new highs and two new lows. (Reporting by C Nivedita and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani, Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur)

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