Stocks fell on Friday to end another volatile week of trading as investors weighed a massive drop in U.S. jobs along with a spike in oil prices.
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.
“Today’s nonfarm payrolls data confirms what we’ve already known: the U.S. economy was doing well before COVID-19’s impact was felt, and COVID-19’s impact has been severe,” said Lauren Goodwin, multi-asset portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments. “Job losses will continue to surge as the national shutdown strengthens its hold on the U.S. economy.”
Stocks got a slight boost earlier in the day as oil rose, adding to its biggest one-day rally on record from the previous session. West Texas Intermediate futures soared 24% on Thursday for their best day ever, lifting the major stock indexes. The Dow and S&P 500 gained more than 2% on Thursday.
“This is a market that has girded itself for a tsunami of negative data, and it’s just getting started,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “So when we get a flare of something more positive, that’s going to draw more of a focus. That’s less expected.”
However, Wall Street was still poised for its third weekly decline in four. The Dow was down 2.1% for the week while the S&P 500 had lost 1.4%. The Nasdaq was down 0.9% week to date.
“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.
Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis, and live business day programming from around the world.