Dow slides 361 points after the US economy loses far more jobs than expected in March

Reuters
  • US stocks fell Friday after the March jobs report disappointed by a wider margin than expected, ending a record 113-month streak of job growth.
  • The declines reversed gains from Thursday when investors shrugged off a second week of massive unemployment insurance claims.
  • The March jobs report doesn’t include two key weeks in which 10 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance. That suggests the worst data is still to come.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

US stocks fell Friday after the March jobs report showed a much larger-than-expected contraction of nonfarm payrolls.

The US economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, according to Friday’s report from the Labour Department, much more than the 100,000 decline economists were expecting. Given that the report only includes data through March 14, missing two weeks in which 10 million Americans filed for unemployment, many had thought the report wouldn’t be so bad.

The dismal report comes amid the coronavirus pandemic that continues to spread through the US and around the world. It suggests that the damage to the economy even early on in the outbreak was even worse than originally thought.

Here’s where major US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET market close on Friday:


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“While today’s report doesn’t capture the full picture, it is an ice-cold splash of reality, showing the impact of the coronavirus in the government’s most reliable labour market statistics,” Daniel Zhao, an economist at Glassdoor, told Business Insider. “The data we’ve seen in the last few weeks alone reminds us that the labour market will get worse before it gets better.”

Stocks fell further after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the state saw its biggest spike in coronavirus-related deaths Thursday, when 2,935 people died. The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in the US and around the world.

In a bright spot, oil surged as much as 13% Friday, continuing gains from its best day on record Thursday, after reports that OPEC and its allies will meet Monday to discuss production cuts as the coronavirus pandemic craters demand.

“Moves to reduce the supply, should they happen, would be a positive for the energy markets,” Matt Forester, chief investment officer of BNY Mellon’s Lockwood Advisors told Business Insider. “But I think we’ve got a ways to go to be able to ensure that that is indeed what is going to happen.”


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Markets will likely remain volatile and investor confidence curbed until there are clear signs of progress either on the outbreak or the monetary policy actions by the Federal Reserve to mitigate damage from the virus.

“The question is whether or not they will have success in cutting off a large part of a solvency crisis that would emerge from a liquidity crisis,” Forester said. Investors are worried about permanent bankruptcies and businesses shuttering as a result of the crisis, which would further damage any economic recovery.

While there’s a host of programs geared towards those issues, “we need to see that that’s starting to have some success,” Forester said.

Fears of a global recession are now being confirmed, according to Han Tan, a market analyst at FXTM.

“Even after the health crisis has peaked, the economic ramifications are set to continue to be a drag on risk assets,” Tan told Business Insider.

He continued: “Until the virus case count peaks and global economic conditions can find a more solid footing which means the business earnings outlook improves, risk sentiment may only experience fleeting bouts of positivity in the interim, as risk aversion remains the dominant de facto mode in global markets.”


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