NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling again on Wall Street, putting the market on track for its third losing week in the last four.
The drop came after the government reported that more than 700,000 jobs were lost last month, the latest of what are sure to be many grim indicators of the toll the coronavirus outbreak is taking on the economy.
U.S. stock indexes held steady at first, then headed lower after the price of oil lost some of its momentum. That undercut a rally for energy stocks, which had been helping to keep the overall market’s losses in check.
The S&P 500 was down 1.8% in early afternoon trading after having traded slightly higher in the early going. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq were off by similar percentages.
The S&P 500 is down 25% since its record set in February.
US sheds 701,000 jobs, ending a record-long hiring streak
WASHINGTON (AP) — A record-long streak of U.S. job growth ended suddenly in March after nearly a decade, as employers slashed hundreds of thousands of jobs because of the viral outbreak that has all but shut down the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate jumped to 4.4% from a 50-year low of 3.5%.
The job loss of 701,000 reported Friday by the Labor Department is the worst since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, and it’s just a small indication of what’s to come. For the April jobs report that will be released in early May, economists expect as many as a record 20 million losses and an unemployment rate of around 15%, the highest since the 1930s.
The enormous magnitude of the job cuts is inflicting far-reaching damage on economies in the United States and abroad, which are widely believed to be sinking into severe recessions.
Economists are holding out hope that an extraordinary series of rescue actions from Congress and the Federal Reserve will help stabilize the U.S. economy in the months ahead. The key goals of Congress’ just-enacted $2.2 trillion relief package are to quickly put cash in people’s hands and incentivize companies to avoid job cuts or quickly recall laid-off employees.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-THEME PARKS
With parks closed, Disney starts furloughs in 2 weeks
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Walt Disney Co. officials announced they’ll start furloughing some workers in two weeks at its theme parks resorts in Florida and California.
The company said late Thursday the first wave of furloughs will start April 19 and involve workers whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time. Anyone who’s furloughed will remain a Disney employee.
The statement didn’t say how many of Walt Disney World’s 75,000 employees or Disneyland’s 31,000 workers would be furloughed. The company has been paying workers and providing health care benefits at its theme park resorts since the parks closed in mid-March due to coronavirus concerns.
Disney officials say they don’t know when they’ll be able to re-open many of their businesses.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF
Small biz rescue off to spotty start; some banks not ready
NEW YORK (AP) — The federal government’s relief program for small businesses is off to a bumpy start, with few businesses able to apply and several big banks saying they’re not ready to process applications.
Millions of small businesses are expected to apply for these desperately needed rescue loans from the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which was put in place to help them retain workers and pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic.
The program is being overseen by the Small Business Administration, but banks are handling the application process. Some large lenders like Wells Fargo, Huntington Bank and Bank of America said are ready to go. BofA said they’ve gotten 28,000 applications so far. Others like JPMorgan Chase said they wouldn’t accept applications on Friday, citing lack of guidance from the Treasury Department.
Independent contractors and the self-employed are not eligible to apply until April 10.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-BUSINESS FALLOUT
Virus cost may top $4 trillion
UNDATED (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic will cost the global economy as much as $4.1 trillion, or nearly 5% of all economic activity, according to new estimates from the Asian Development Bank.
The regional lender said Friday that growth in developing Asia would likely fall to 2.2% in 2020, more than halving last year’s growth of 5.2%. China, the region’s biggest economy, experienced double-digit contractions in business activity in January-February and will likely see growth fall to 2.3% this year. That’s compared with 6.1 last year, already a three-decade low, the ADB said.
In Europe, a key gauge of activity in manufacturing and services fell to a record low, suggesting an annualized drop in GDP of about 10% for the 19-country eurozone.
IMF leader says virus is “crisis like no other’
GENEVA (AP) — The head of the International Monetary Fund says the recession sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is “way worse” than the 2008 global recession. IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva is describing the situation as “a crisis like no other.”
Georgieva says 90 countries have already approached the institution for emergency financing. She is calling on countries to prioritize health expenditures and to make sure doctors, nurses and other health workers are paid. She adds that the world’s most fragile countries must be protected, noting that “$90 billion have flown out” and damaged emerging economies.
3M fires back at Trump over order to produce more face masks
UNDATED (AP) — Manufacturing giant 3M pushed back Friday against criticism from President Donald Trump over production of face masks that are badly needed by American health care workers.
3M said the administration asked it to stop exporting medical-grade masks to Canada and Latin America, which the company said raises “significant humanitarian implications” and will backfire by causing other countries to retaliate against the U.S.
The N95 masks, also called respirators, provide more protection against the new coronavirus than ordinary surgical masks. Governors and hospital officials around the country have warned of a dire shortage of masks and other protective gear that protects health care workers treating people with COVID-19.
The unusual but not unprecedented spat between the president and a leading American manufacturer broke out after Trump ordered 3M to produce as many N95 masks as administration officials believe are needed for the U.S.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SQUABBLING FOR SUPPLIES
Scramble for virus supplies strains global solidarity
ROME (AP) — From tiny San Marino, wedged next to two of Italy’s hardest-hit provinces in the coronavirus outbreak, to more economically powerful nations like Italy, countries are running up against export bans and seizures in the scramble for vital medical supplies.
Solidarity in battle to overcome the pandemic often gives way to self-interest, as each nation worries about its own citizens. Millions of masks might stay stockpiled in warehouse instead of being shipped across borders.
“Crazy” is how the health minister of stricken Spain has described the complex international market for items like masks, gowns and respirators.