US stocks fell on Thursday after a government report that the number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance has skyrocketed to more than 6.6 million new claims, bringing the total over the last two weeks to 10 million.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 100 points at the opening, before recovering some of its losses. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were trading flat. The main US indices were gaining in pre-market trading before the job numbers were announced.
The Labor Department reported on Thursday that the number of last week’s jobless claims has doubled from the previous week’s historic record, bringing the total number of Americans who filed for unemployment over the past two weeks to 10 million.
The surge in unemployment is far greater than expected by economists who have characterized it as “monstrous,” “stunningly awful,” and “a portrait of disaster.” US jobless claims were hovering in the low 200,000s each week preceding the Covid-19 outbreak.
“The news is terrible and I’m not sure why the estimates the past two weeks have been so far off but we all know how rough things are,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, was cited as saying by CNBC. “The only question it seems is timing. The timing of when that freaking curve bends and when we as a society decide to shift to a life resumption plan, masks included.”
US stock markets are coming off big losses in the previous session, pressured by warnings from the White House to expect between 100,000 and 240,000 coronavirus deaths in the country in the weeks ahead.
More than 961,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed globally, with the United States registering the greatest number of infections at over 216,000.
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