US stocks mixed after turbulent trading driven by Fed jitters and delta spread

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  • US stocks closed mixed after a choppy session as investors digested the prospect of Fed tapering.
  • The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance dropped to a new pandemic-era low last week.
  • Oil prices fell for the sixth straight day; gold prices edged lower.

US stocks closed mixed on Thursday after a turbulent session as investors continue to mull tapering by the Federal Reserve towards the end of this year alongside a continuous surge in delta variant cases across the country.

The benchmark S&P 500 index fluctuated throughout the day but eventually closed higher. Technology shares, meanwhile, pushed the Nasdaq 100 up slightly, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed lower, dragged by energy and materials.

The US seven-day moving average of daily virus cases on Thursday surpassed 130,000 for the first time since February, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here's where US indexes stood at the 4:00 p.m. close on Thursday:

Minutes from the Federal Reserve's July meeting released on Wednesday indicate that the central bank may start tapering asset purchases before the end of the year.

"The pandemic low [in jobless claims] could be met with some mixed feelings after the Fed minutes," Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy, at E-Trade Financial said in a statement. "Progress in the labor market is the missing piece of the puzzle for the Fed to set into motion."

Loewengart added that while fewer people filing for unemployment is a positive indication, there still may be some trepidation as investors consider how this fits into the Fed's plan of action.

"Keep in mind these numbers are backward-looking and things change quickly," he added. "We've seen somewhat contradictory reads between ADP, jobless claims, and nonfarm payrolls, so market watchers kind of have to triangulate to get a signal."

The number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance dropped to a new pandemic-era low last week.

Weekly jobless claims totaled an unadjusted 348,000 last week, the Labor Department said, lower than the 363,000 figure economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected. The print marked a fourth straight decline and places claims at their lowest level since March 14, 2020.

Robinhood slipped 10% after the popular trading platform said the boom in trading both in cryptocurrencies and equities could fade in the coming months.

Nvidia surged 8% after the graphics card manufacturer reported record second-quarter earnings results that surpassed analyst estimates.

Macy's jumped as much as 22% to a more than two-year high after the department store chain posted second-quarter earnings that beat expectations and raised its guidance for the year.

US Treasury yields slipped, with the benchmark 10-year note hovering around 1.245%, after hitting a session high of 1.30%.

Oil prices fell for the sixth day, slumping to a three-month low on demand worries.

West Texas Intermediate crude was down as much as 2.12%, to $64.07 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, dropped 2.04%, to $66.84 per barrel.

Gold was edged lower, down by 0.58%, to $1,777.18 per ounce.

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