Stocks up 3rd day in a row as indexes gain 6% squib

Stocks marched higher for a third straight day Friday as a coronavirus relief bill moved closer to passing Congress and Wall Street took some historically bad unemployment figures in stride.

The S&P 500 rose 6.2%, bringing its three-day rally to 17.6%. The Dow industrials are up 21.3% since Monday.

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, easily shattering the previous record set in 1982, as layoffs and business shutdowns sweep across the country.

The market shot higher Thursday because Wall Street knew the bad news on unemployment was coming, analysts said, and the Senate finally passed a $2.2 trillion economic aid package as part of an astonishing amount of support being pushed into the economy by politicians and the Federal Reserve.

“There is no sugar coating these numbers — they are bad,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner for Harris Financial Group. “Markets have had several days to digest what everyone knew was coming; therefore, the market response to these numbers may differ than what people might expect.”

Despite the big gains, the S&P 500 remains 22% below its February high and analysts expect more dire economic headlines, and market turbulence, in the days ahead.

Companies are also expected to report discouraging results in just a few weeks as earnings season begins. Very few have dared to issue forecasts capturing how big a hit the virus will inflict on their profits.

The market’s rally began Tuesday amid expectations that Congress would approve the rescue plan, which includes direct payments to households and aid to hard-hit industries.

The prospect of a big financial shot in the arm for businesses and households helped offset some of the concerns about the steep job losses the economy is beginning to...

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