Stocks continued to rally at the beginning of last week amid hopes of enhanced testing for COVID-19. But by the end of the day Wednesday stocks slid, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posting their largest single-day declines since March 18. Energy shares in particular were hit hard. The Dow fell 4.4% and the small caps of the Russell 2000 continued to collapse, dropping over 7.0% on Wednesday. Economically, the virus is overwhelming the job market, as the number of unemployment insurance claims broke records for the second consecutive week.
For the past several weeks Thursdays have become rebound days for the market, and last Thursday was no exception. The Dow and the S&P 500 closed the day up about 2.25%, respectively, while the Nasdaq picked up about 1.75%. Oil prices pushed higher on word of output cuts. But COVID-19 has shrunk the demand for oil, which will likely keep prices in check even with reduced production.
A dismal jobs report (see below) drove stocks lower by the close of trading last Friday. Analysts believe as poor as this report may be, it doesn't reflect the magnitude of the damage done by the virus. They point to the more than 10 million claims for unemployment insurance over the past two weeks as a further indicator that the worst is yet to come. As more information is released, investors will be able to assess the economic damage done by COVID-19.
After rallying to close the prior week with double-digit gains, investors reeled in those profits last week, pulling the benchmark indexes lower. The small caps of the Russell 2000 were hardest hit, falling more than 7.0%, followed by the Global Dow, the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq, which was the only index not to fall at least 2.0%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to a three-week low as bond prices soared, also affected by the latest job figures.
Oil prices climbed higher last week following news that production would be reduced, closing at $28.79 per barrel by late Friday afternoon, up from the prior week's price of $21.57. The price of gold (COMEX) rose again last week, closing at $1,649.30 by late Friday afternoon, up from the prior week's price of $1,625.30. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.005 per gallon on March 30, 2020, $0.115 lower than the prior week's price and $0.686 less than a year ago.
Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.
For economic reports, the focus this week is on inflation. The latest price information is available for March with the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index. Last month consumer prices inched ahead 0.1% and were up 2.3% over the last 12 months. Producers saw their prices drop by 0.6% in February and are looking for a strong rebound in March.
Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. The U.S. Dollar Index is a geometrically weighted index of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to six foreign currencies. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.