US stocks set to decline after massive March jobs decline


Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. stock indexes fell on Friday after the U.S. government reported a sharp decline in jobs for last month. 

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 88 points, implying an opening loss of about 79 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also traded lower.

U.S. payrolls fell by 701,000 in March, marking the worst jobs report since 2009, while the unemployment rate jumped to 4.4%. However, the report failed to capture the full extent of the economic blow being dealt by the coronavirus outbreak. On Thursday, the Labor Department said jobless claims jumped by a record of 6.6 million for the week of March 27.

IHS Markit PMIs are also set for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.

The decline in stock futures was mitigated by a 12.4% rally in crude, which added to oil’s record rally from the previous session. West Texas Intermediate futures soared 24% on Thursday for their best day ever, lifting the major stock indexes. However, U.S. crude remains about 50% lower for the year despite those sharp gains. 

The Dow and S&P 500 rallied more than 2% each on Thursday. However, the major indexes were still headed for their third weekly loss in four. Entering Friday’s session, the Dow was down 1% while the S&P 500 had slipped 0.6%.

“Trends have now been Sideways for US and European equities for the last seven trading sessions, despite the massive swings,” said Mark Newton, managing member at Newton Advisors, in a note. “Gains have consolidated, but have not given way to much weakness that is sufficient to expect an immediate test of low.”

Both the Dow and S&P 500 remain more than 25% below their respective all-time highs set in February as jitters over the spread of COVID-19 foster volatile trading on Wall Street.

There have been more than 245,000 confirmed infections in the United States and more than 6,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, more than 1 million cases have been confirmed. 

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