At closing, the Dow was down by 360.91 points, as the S&P 500 slid by 38.25 points into red territory. The Nasdaq Composite dipped by 114.23 points. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 indices remain more than 25% below all-time highs established in February.
Although not ideal, Wall Street analysts have noted that volatility is expected to continue as long as confirmed COVID-19 cases surge in the US. Data collected by Johns Hopkins University marked a milestone Thursday as the global figure of confirmed COVID-19 cases exceeded 1 million. At present, the US holds the highest tally, with more than 250,000 cases.
Elsewhere, European markets didn’t fare any better, as trading saw the German Dax Performance index and the UK’s Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 index wrap the day’s trading with losses of 45.05 points and 64.72 points, respectively.
Asian markets, meanwhile, largely stayed in red territory Friday despite an overnight spike in oil prices that saw US crude figures increase by more than 24%. The surge came as a result of remarks by US President Donald Trump that suggested Saudi Arabia and Russia were on the verge of agreeing to a possible oil production cut amid their ongoing dispute.
US Jobs Report Reveals Payrolls Dropped Over 700,000 in March
Plummeting stock figures have also been affected by dismal data in a newly issued jobs report by the US Labor Department, which indicated that US payrolls dropped by 701,000 for the month of March.
“The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it. Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459,000, mainly in food services and drinking places,” reads the report. “Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.”
Marking the largest one-month increase in the US unemployment rate since January 1975, the release also noted that the rate rose to 4.4%.
However, it’s of note that due to the timing of the two surveys conducted for the report, figures do not fully capture the millions of unemployment claims submitted during the second half of March. The Friday report was issued just one day after a separate Labor Department report noted that a record 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment claims in the week ending March 28.
Lauren Goodwin, a multi-asset portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments, told CNBC that the department’s Friday report “confirms what we’ve already known: the US economy was doing well before COVID-19′s impact was felt, and COVID-19′s impact has been severe.”
“Job losses will continue to surge as the national shutdown strengthens its hold on the US economy,” she added.