Thursday May 14th

14-05-2020

Dow futures drop 300 points as two-month job losses total more than 36 million amid pandemic

U.S. stock index futures fell on Thursday after the latest jobless data underscored the coronavirus’ devastating toll on the U.S. economy. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 330 points, implying an opening loss of about 320 points. S&P 500 futures traded about 0.9% lower and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 0.8%. The Labor Department reported Thursday a total of 2.981 million Americans filed unemployment insurance during the week ending May 9. The number came in worse than expectations of 2.7 million new claims, according to economists polled by Dow Jones. The new claims also brought the coronavirus crisis total to nearly 36.5 million over the past two months, by far the biggest loss in U.S. history. A record of 20.5 million jobs were lost in April alone as the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown tore through the economy, sending the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 14.7%. On Wednesday, the Dow and S&P 500 fell 2.2% and 1.8%, respectively, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 1.6%. Those declines followed a stark warning from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. So far this week, the Dow has lost 4.4%, while the S&P 500 dropped 3.7%. “While the economic response has been both timely and appropriately large, it may not be the final chapter, given that the path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks,” he said, noting more needs to be down to support the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. Powell made his comments as several states begin to reopen their economies. “There are a lot of variables in terms of really how the economy opens here. It’s going to be very uneven,” said Gregory Faranello, head of U.S. rates trading at AmeriVet Securities. In terms of additional efforts, Faranello said the Fed could implement some “yield curve control,” among other measures. “From a capital perspective and a leverage perspective, the Fed can grow the existing programs that they have online,” Faranello said. Market sentiment was also dented earlier on Wednesday after two major investors raised questions about the market’s current valuation. Appaloosa’s David Tepper told CNBC’s “Halftime Report” this is the second-most overvalued market he’s seen, behind only the one in 1999. Meanwhile, Stanley Druckenmiller of Duquesne Family Office said Tuesday said: “Risk-reward for equity is maybe as bad as I’ve seen it in my career.” Despite the sharp drop on Wednesday, the S&P 500 remains more than 28% above its March 23 low. The Dow has also rallied more than 27% since then as shares of major tech companies surged. “Those stocks that we’re doing well before all this are the ones that did well” after the initial sell-off, said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management. “It’s like the big get bigger and stronger.” Still, Clark highlighted the uncertainty investors currently face, noting: “Nobody’s ever been through anything like this. … For now, we’re just hoping we’re finding the right businesses that can continue to grow and take share and come out stronger.” Stocks in Asia fell on Thursday as a data release showed employment in Australia falling in April. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 1.74% to close at 19,914.78 while the Topix index also shed 1.91% to finish its trading day at 1,446.55. South Korea’s Kospi also declined 0.8% to close at 1,924.96. Mainland Chinese stocks closed lower, with the Shanghai composite down 0.96% to around 2,870.34 while the Shenzhen composite slipped 0.941% to approximately 1,805.70. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.43%, as of its final hour of trading. Oil prices rose on Thursday after a drop in U.S. crude stocks and an IEA forecast for lower global stockpiles in the second half, but the Brent benchmark still hovered around $30 a barrel as a weak demand picture curbed gains. Brent crude futures were up 99 cents, or 3.4%, to trade at $30.18 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures were 94 cents, or 3.7%, higher at $26.23 per barrel. Gold held steady on Thursday as concerns over prolonged economic weakness due to the coronavirus outbreak countered a stronger U.S. dollar after the Federal Reserve dashed hopes of sub-zero interest rates. Spot gold was little changed at $1,714.63 per ounce. U.S. gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,722.60 per ounce.