Stock market attempts a rally, amid record-shattering unemployment figures

Wall Street attempted a rally Thursday morning, despite record-breaking unemployment claims that revealed the extent to which the economy has ground to halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by around 330 points at the opening bell. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also ticked up a notch, trading higher by around 1.4 percent.

The stock slide came after data from the Department of Labor showed a staggering 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, the first official snapshot of the economic damage wrought by the virus.

The massive spike in new jobless claims comes as nationwide lockdowns to halt the spread of the virus have kept Americans from their workplaces, forcing many companies to shut their doors and lay off staff.

While economists and market participants were expecting an outsize number of unemployment claims, Thursday’s total was far higher than anticipated, outpacing expectations of around 1 or 2 million.

However, the figure was dismissed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“I just think these numbers right now are not relevant,” he said Thursday in an interview with CNBC.

While the Federal Reserve and the government have intervened to soften the blow, “This week’s unemployment insurance claims provide a clear gauge of the substantial negative impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the U.S. economy, which we expect to slide into recession this year,” said Robard Williams at Moody’s analyst service.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell echoed that sentiment in a rare interview Thursday morning, telling Savannah Guthrie on the “TODAY” show, “We may well be in a recession. But I would point to the difference between this and a normal recession. There is not anything fundamentally wrong with our economy. Quite the contrary. We are starting from a very strong position.”

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