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U.S. equity markets battled back from steep losses early Thursday and were fighting to hold onto the remnants of their gains from the Trump era.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by just 123 points after a drop of 721 points, or 3.6 percent, shortly after the open. If the Dow is down at least 166.52 points at the close of trading, that would erase the entirety of its once-sizeable increase since President Trump was sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2017.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite, which also posted steep losses earlier, rallied too.
The S&P was down 0.7 percent mid-morning, while the Nasdaq rose 1.4 percent.
|I:DJI||DOW JONES AVERAGES||19904.67||+5.75||+0.03%|
|I:COMP||NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX||7097.742387||+107.90||+1.54%|
Thursday’s action comes after President Trump signed a second coronavirus measure into law on Wednesday evening, which provides paid sick leave, unemployment help and free testing to Americans.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sickened 9,415 people in the U.S. and killed 150, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.
The impact of “shelter in place” orders, social distancing between people, the cancellation of non-essential travel and the closure of many restaurants and bars has started to show up in the economic data.
The Department of Labor reported on Thursday morning that the number of weekly jobless claims jumped by 281,000 in the week ended March 14, exceeding the increase of 220,000 that economists surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting.
Looking at stocks, travel-related names, which have been in the eye of this financial storm, were mostly lower.
|AAL||AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC.||10.60||-1.05||-9.01%|
|RCL||ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES||21.33||-1.00||-4.48%|
|BKNG||BOOKING HOLDINGS INC.||1,209.14||-24.61||-1.99%|
Beaten-down energy companies saw some reprieve as West Texas Intermediate crude oil spiked 10.8 percent to $23.07 a barrel. Crude plunged by more than 24 percent on Wednesday, touching a low near $20.
|XOM||EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION||33.12||+0.01||+0.02%|
Money poured back into the U.S. Treasury market, flattening the yield curve and weighing on bank shares. The benchmark 10-year yield was down 5.5 basis points at 1.13 percent.
|JPM||JP MORGAN CHASE & CO.||84.05||+0.16||+0.19%|
|BAC||BANK OF AMERICA CORP.||20.49||-0.30||-1.44%|
|WFC||WELLS FARGO & COMPANY||27.16||-0.96||-3.43%|
In manufacturing, Harley-Davidson suspended production at its U.S. plants while General Motors and Ford are looking into the possibility of making medical equipment at their factories.
Elsewhere, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced the closing of its stores for two weeks amid declining traffic due to COVID-19.
|GM||GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY||16.71||-0.09||-0.54%|
|F||FORD MOTOR COMPANY||4.26||-0.24||-5.39%|
In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 1.7 percent and France’s CAC slid 1.2 percent after the European Central Bank launched a 750 billion-euro ($805 billion) asset purchase plan. Britain’s FTSE was weaker by 2.1 percent.
Asian markets ended lower, with South Korea’s Kospi plunging 8.4 percent after the government said it was preparing for a possible credit crunch. Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 2.6 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei both lost 1 percent.