Stocks ticked gingerly upward on Friday morning, as investors evaluated new data that shows a continuing collapse in the country’s labor force due to the coronavirus pandemic that has curtailed economic growth across the globe.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened the day with a decline of around 100 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also traded lower by around 0.5 percent. All three major averages then recovered slightly.
Monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that payrolls fell by 701,000 in March. While that is the largest decline since 2010, a drop of some kind has already been priced in by market participants and economists.
The closely watched employment snapshot on Friday also showed that the nation’s unemployment rate has soared to 4.4 percent, from 3.5 percent, after months at a half-century low.
March’s data represents the tip of the iceberg, however, since the survey was conducted in the first half of the month, prior to the pandemic’s grip on the economy.
An oil rally also boosted markets overnight and into the morning session, with crude soaring by around 25 percent after President Donald Trump suggested that Saudi Arabia and Russia would end a brutal price war that has seen the price of oil sink to levels not seen since the 1990s.
Trump tweeted on Thursday that he had spoken recently with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that the two countries would cut production by about 10 million barrels a day.