U.S. unemployment benefits fall, jobs report falls to lowest in 21 yrs

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Jobless claims fall, layoffs at lowest in more than 21 years.

Aug 5 - U.S. stock markets were set to rise on Thursday after data showed fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits, while investors looked to another busy day of corporate earnings reports.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell to 385,000 in the week ending July 31st, while layoffs went down to their lowest level in just over 21 years last month as companies held on to their workers amid a labor shortage, Labor Department's report showed.

On July 4th, Focus will shift to Friday's jobs report for the month of July.

A disappointing employment report would raise questions about the economic recovery but it would also lead the Federal Reserve to remain accommodative, said Sean O'Hara, president of Pacer ETFs.

On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P 500 index closed below a record high to close shortly below it's lower. Concerns about the pace of economic growth and higher inflation have pressured the index, but stellar corporate earnings so far have put it on track to end the week slightly higher.

I think the economy and markets have gone from feeling really uncertain to being a bit confident, considering the rising risks of inflation and Delta variant, O'Hara said.

World stocks also eased from all-time highs after federal Reserve vice chairman Richard Clarida, a major architect of the Fed's new policy strategy, said on Wednesday that he felt the conditions for raising interest rates could be met by the end of 2022.

Earnings reports continued to pour in with shares of Electronic Arts Inc rising 4.4% in premarket trading after it forecast current-quarter adjusted sales above estimates. Rivals take-two and Activision Blizzard rose about 1% each.

Uber Technologies Inc. fell 4.2% after the ride-hailing and food delivery company racked up growing losses.

ET, Dow e-minis were up 64 points, or 0.18%; Nasdaq 100 e-minis rose 9 points, or 0.2%; Dow e-minis was up 25.5 points, or 0.17%.

Of the 340 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, a record 87.6% beat profit estimates according to the Refinitive IBES data.

Analysts expect the second quarter profit at S&P 500 companies to be up 90.2% versus a year ago.

In other earnings-related moves, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. rose 2.4% after it handily beat analysts' estimates for second-quarter results. Health insurer Cigna Corp slipped 3.9% as it doubled its estimates of the hit to full-year income from the pandemic.

Robinhood Markets Inc fell 6.4% after a four-day surge during which its price doubled as retail traders piled into the online brokerage’s stock.