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NEW YORK (AP) – The stock market’s first reaction to Friday’s surprisingly poor jobs report was to pick it up. But Wall Street slipped throughout the day as investors anticipated the likelihood that even worse numbers were on the way.

Shares initially held steady after the government said U.S. employers cut 701,000 more jobs than they created last month, the first drop in nearly a decade. Many companies have halted amid attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, and investors fully expected to see such appalling numbers.

But the market fell as the day wore on and, as has become typical on recent Fridays, investors have looked to exit stocks before the weekend, which could be filled with even more bad ones. news. Losses accelerated after the governor of New York announced the biggest daily jump to date in coronavirus deaths in the nation’s hardest-hit state.

“It was interesting that the initial reaction to the number of jobs was not more significant,” said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest. “As that took hold, you started to see the market start to sell off after realizing that those numbers were going to get a lot uglier.”

The S&P 500 lost 38.25 points, or 1.5%, to 2,488.65. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 360.91 points, or 1.7%, to 21,052.53, and the Nasdaq was down 114.23, or 1.5%, to 7,373.08. Small business stocks fell much more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 Index lost 33.76 points, or 3.1%, to 1,052.05.

Potentially frightening events on the calendar include Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report, which has been the closest thing to a real-time measure of the fierceness of layoffs sweeping the country. Companies will also soon begin reporting earnings results for the first three months of the year, with the reporting season starting in earnest in two weeks. Next month’s jobs report could even show the economy wiped out the last of 22.8 million jobs created in its nearly ten-year hiring streak.

Friday’s jobs report likely did not fully capture the extent of the recent job losses, which have accelerated day by day, as it collected data before stay-at-home orders were released. generalized.

“There is much worse to come,” said Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein.

Importantly, investors will be watching the number of new coronavirus cases. Only the peak can give an idea of ​​the duration and depth of the economic downturn.

“The concern is that there is just too much uncertainty,” said Mark Hackett, chief investment researcher for Nationwide.

The S&P 500 is down 26.5% from its high set in February, reflecting the growing assumption that the economy is about to slide into a sudden and extremely strong recession.

The panic sell that dominated the first weeks of the liquidation has eased somewhat since Washington released massive amounts of aid to help markets and the economy. The Federal Reserve has promised to buy as many Treasuries as it takes to keep credit markets running smoothly, and Congress has approved a $ 2.2 trillion bailout for the economy.

“Together, these actions are staggering and unprecedented and will help soften the economic blow from this health crisis and tip the country to the other side,” said Rick Rieder, director of global fixed income investments at BlackRock .

Last week, the S&P 500 lost 2.1%, a more moderate change than the 10.3% rise and 15% decline of the previous two weeks.

The United States has more than 266,000 confirmed cases of the virus, which tops the global tally of more than one million compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially the elderly and people with health problems, it can cause more serious illnesses, including pneumonia and death.

Over 58,000 people have died, but over 225,000 have recovered.

Companies that were hanging on just before the outbreak due to the strength of the economy at the time may not survive. Retail chains and shopping centers in particular are under threat, said Peter Essele, head of portfolio management for Commonwealth Financial Network.

“It’s kind of a bushfire we’re going to have,” he said. “The strong will survive at the other end of this.”

Markets strengthened somewhat on Friday after a further rise in oil prices.

Benchmark U.S. crude climbed 11.9% to $ 28.34 a barrel, adding to its nearly 25% rise the day before on expectations that Saudi Arabia and Russia could slow their war of price. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose $ 4.17 to $ 34.11 a barrel.

The world is inundated with oil as demand for energy slumps, and President Donald Trump said on Thursday rivals could be on the verge of cutting production to support the price of oil.

Whether the oil-producing countries actually follow through only adds an additional layer of uncertainty to the market.

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