US STOCKS-Dow, Nasdaq hit record highs as focus turns to Biden’s stimulus speech

US STOCKS-Dow, Nasdaq hit record highs as focus turns to Biden’s stimulus speech

Devik Jain and Medha Singh

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* TSMC results power semiconductor stocks

* Delta Air Lines CEO calls 2021 year of recovery

-* Weekly jobless claims rise more than expected* Biden to outline stimulus plan on Thursday evening

* Indexes up: Dow 0.37%, S&P 0.17%, Nasdaq 0.42% (Adds comment; updates market prices)

By Devik Jain and Medha Singh

Jan 14 (Reuters) – The Dow and the Nasdaq hit record highs on Thursday in anticipation of President-elect Joe Biden’s pandemic aid proposal to jump-start a struggling economy after data highlighted weakening labor market conditions.

The Labor Department’s weekly jobless report showed the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits increased more than expected last week, underscoring the impact of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

However, the S&P 500 rose for the seventh time in nine sessions this year as investors count on Biden to unveil during a prime-time address on Thursday evening a stimulus plan that could exceed $1.5 trillion.

“We’re really focused on the stimulus measures so we largely ignored the fact that we also had a really big spike in jobless claims,” said Max Gokhman, head of asset allocation at Pacific Life Fund Advisors in Newport Beach, California.

“Perhaps it’s back to bad news is good news situation where market expects that deteriorating economic data will motivate lawmakers to issue even more stimulus.”

Delta Air Lines gained 3.6% as Chief Executive Ed Bastian forecast 2021 to be “the year of recovery” after the coronavirus pandemic prompted its first annual loss in 11 years.

The S&P 1500 airlines index added 3.3%.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors rose with economy-linked energy, financial and industrials among the biggest gainers.

The domestically-focused small-cap Russell 2000, as well as the Dow Jones Transports index, considered a barometer of economic health, both scaled all-time highs.