April 2, 2020 / 2:47 PM / in 2 months

US STOCKS-Wall St gains as oil recovery eclipses record weekly jobless claims

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* Initial unemployment claims rose to 6.65 mln last week

* Exxon, Chevron top gainers on Dow

* Energy index biggest pct gainer among major sectors

* Indexes up: Dow 0.39%, S&P 0.72%, Nasdaq 0.56% (Updates to open)

By Medha Singh and Uday Sampath Kumar

April 2 (Reuters) - Wall Street bounced on Thursday as a recovery in oil prices outweighed the shock of weekly jobless claims soaring past 6 million.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits last week exceeded the top end of analysts’ estimates at 5.25 million, and U.S. President Donald Trump has warned of more economic pain as more states enforce sweeping stay-at-home orders to curtail the coronavirus pandemic.

“The U.S. labor market has never experienced such a disruption,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*TRADE Financial.

“Most will likely say the United States is sitting squarely in a recession right now, but the real question at hand is for how long and to what extent.”

The Dow Jones and S&P 500, still fresh from their worst opening quarters in history, were lifted by a surge in oil prices as Saudi Arabia and Russia signaled they were ready to co-operate to help stabilize the market.

The energy index, which has lost half its value this year partly due to their price war, jumped 13% with Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp posting the biggest gains among Dow components.

But analysts predict further declines for U.S. equity markets as more companies announce production cuts and withdraw financial forecasts ahead of the earnings season.

Boeing Co, once a symbol of American industrialism, said on Thursday it would offer buyout and early retirement packages to employees, as a near collapse in business activity crushes liquidity and sparks mass staff furloughs.

“We’re going to be digesting this for awhile and until the data becomes less worse, we’re going to have lumpiness in trading around these shock-and-awe numbers,” said Richard Steinberg, chief market strategist at Colony Group, in Florida.

At 10:13 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 81.95 points, or 0.39%, at 21,025.46, while the S&P 500 was up 17.83 points, or 0.72%, at 2,488.33. The Nasdaq Composite was up 41.58 points, or 0.56%, at 7,402.16.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc fell 6% after the drugstore retailer reported a steep decline in U.S same-store sales in the last week of March.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.53-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.80-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and seven new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded two new highs and 47 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Arun Koyyur)

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