Wall Street starts second quarter on shaky ground as virus anxiety grows

April 2, 2020 - 2 months ago
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Cracks appeared on Wall Street on Wednesday as news reports indicated Worldwide, that there were more than 46,000 deaths and more than 921,000 confirmed cases., with the U.S. coronavirus death toll now surpassing 4,500.

Downward momentum increased after U.S. President Trump issued a dire new warning about pain ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday night President Trump said the U.S. should brace for a “very, very painful two weeks” from coronavirus.

“This is going to be a rough two-week period,” Trump said.

“When you look at night, the kind of death that has been caused by this invisible enemy, it’s incredible.”

The White House is now projecting that the U.S. could see between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, peaking over the next two weeks.

Right now, the US has 189,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, currently the largest outbreak in the world. As of April 1, 4,000 have died of coronavirus in the US.

Fresh off one of the worst quarters in history, U.S. stocks continued to incur losses on Wednesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk -973.65 points, or -4.44% to close at 20,943.51.

Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor’s 500 plummeted -114.09 points or -4.41%, to finish at 2,470.50 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slumped -339.52 points or -4.41% to 7,360.58.

At the start of April, global stocks posted their worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis, with talk now that the second quarter could be just as bad, if not worse!

Financial companies came under pressure after major banks in Europe like Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays announced they were scrapping dividend payments, bringing their share prices sharply lower. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs shed at least -6%.

With tumbling oil prices, Whiting Petroleum Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; the U.S. shale producer said on Wednesday, the first publicly traded casualty of crashing crude oil prices that are expected to bite into record U.S. output.

The company blamed the “severe downturn in oil and gas prices driven by uncertainty around the duration of the Saudi/Russia oil price war and the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Notably, Whiting said in a regulatory filing that on March 26, in response to the circumstances affecting the oil industry, it revised its compensation program to pay out more than $13 million bonuses to several executives, including $6.4 million to CEO Brad Holly.

President Trump is due to meet executives from oil companies tomorrow to discuss government support for the industry.

Wall Street will be keeping a close eye on U.S. unemployment claims this Thursday, with the forecast holding at 3.5 mil, with the previous month release at 3.2 mil.

Investors are also looking to this Friday when the U.S. Labor Department releases the monthly U.S. jobs report, which will likely show a sharp drop in payrolls.

The Non-Farm Employment Change forecast holds at -100k, with the previous month release at 273k, with the Unemployment Rate expected to rise to 3.8%, with the last statement at the 50-year lows at 3.5%.

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