U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday despite news that gross domestic product growth fell well short of expectations.

Material and energy stocks led gains while communication services stocks lagged. Stocks have been relatively quiet this week despite a slew of economic and corporate data.

Treasury yields were flat as investors gauge recent economic news.

European and Asian stocks were higher after strong results from mega-cap companies so far this week.

The price of crude oil was up $1.20, or 1.66 percent, at $73.59 a barrel, and the spot price of gold was up $28.70, or 1.59 percent, to $1,828.40 an ounce.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 6.5 percent, disappointing most economists and falling well short of expectations. The sluggish growth compared with estimates suggests the economy has not yet fully rebounded from the economic recession seen last year.

However, Edward Jones analysts said there is a silver lining to the GDP news: Personal spending grew 11.8 percent in the second quarter, a major driver of overall growth. They believe consumers will continue to drive economic growth this year, with excess savings providing dry powder for the economy as we reopen and service-industry spending gains steam.

The labor market has been a sore spot for economists and policymakers in recent months. Fresh data shows initial jobless claims totaled 400,000, above an expected 380,000 and almost twice that of average pre-pandemic levels.

High jobless numbers come even as job openings reach record levels. One possible explanation is that job seekers are using this period to “shop around” and find positions that better suit their interests. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell pointed out that this process likely has a speed limit, as searchers need time to process their options.

Regardless, analysts still expect employment growth to be higher in fall as unemployment benefits and eviction moratoriums expire and COVID-19 vaccination rates rise.

The daily stock report is provided by the Salida office of Edward Jones.

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