Stocks gained Thursday as investors awaited more labor market data, which will serve as crucial information in determining the path forward for the monetary policies underpinning risk assets over the past year. 

Ahead of a key monthly report on job gains, a new print on weekly unemployment claims came in lower than expected, underscoring further improvements in the economic recovery.

The S&P 500 advanced to an all-time high. The Nasdaq also rose to set a fresh intraday record before paring some gains during the afternoon session.

The indexes’ latest march to record highs has been powered by technology stocks, with the Nasdaq extending a run of outperformance from August. This has in turn signaled investors’ concerns over the status of the economic recovery given the Delta variant’s spread, with growth and technology stocks seen as more of a defensive trade amid a coronavirus resurgence. 

For cyclical stocks like energy and travel…

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